As we stood on the Israeli Syrian border, with outstretched hands, we asked God to bless and protect our Syrian brothers and sisters, less than 50 miles from our vantage point. For me personally, it was a moment etched into my memory and feelings that I will never forget. While we stood safely and secure, under the protection of the Israeli army, just a short distance away, many were dying for their faith in Jesus Christ. In a sea of persecution, murder, and genocide, there we stood on a sliver of land, no bigger than 263 miles north to south and at it’s deepest width, no more than 71 miles, and it’s narrowest 9.3 miles. Israel can be driven north to south in approximately 5-6 hours and west to east in less than 2 hours. Under normal circumstances, one might ask why the Middle East is on the verge of major war over such an insignificant piece of real estate-the size of New Jersey? Well, these are not normal times and the significance of the establishment of the Jewish nation is key to understanding the times in which we are living- times in which the prophets dreamed of seeing and we are blessed to participate i Notice the size comparison between Israel and the Arab World below.
I have been home approximately 3 weeks from a Holy land Pilgrimage which we saw transform many lives. While I have been to Israel many times, I can tell you that the excitement and joy of going again has never lost it’s splendor and expectancy for me, and each experience in the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob always offers new insight and clarity into God’s Plan for Israel and the Church.
Yet- this trip seemed different. I was given a new awareness of the Miracle that is the nation of Israel. Just think of it! The prophet Isaiah, writing approximately 2,700 years ago, proclaimed in chapter 66 verse 8, “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once?” Yes! On May 14-15, 1948, by a United Nation’s charter vote, Israel was established as a nation-In one Day! In this article, it is not my intent to re-examine my last blog- “The Role of Israel and the Church” but to create an awareness of Israel’s Role in God’s Plan and the miracle that is the state of Israel today.
Understanding that present day Israel has rejected God’s plan for her, yet also realizing God’s Master Plan is far from completed, I want to examine why, as believers, we are intrinsically connected to what God is doing with His people Israel . My understanding is based, not upon personal opinion or my many ventures to Israel, but the wisdom and knowledge of men who have mentored me and established my faith upon sold rock and firm doctrinal understanding-men such as Dr. Jack Hayford, Chuck Smith, Walter Martin, J. Rodman Williams, and a host of others who have had a passion to Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.
First of all, there are two main views concerning Israel in relation to God’s Plan. One view holds that Israel was chosen of God but has now been set aside because of her disobedience and rejecting Christ. God’s judgment fell on Israel when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by Roman legions in 70 AD. and hence, the Church has replaced Israel as God’s Chosen and now receives all the inheritance and blessings promised to Israel in the Old Testament- but only in a spiritual sense. This teaching is called Replacement Theology.
The position that I personally believe to be correct says that though Israel was judged and set aside by God for rejecting the Messiah, the judgment is not permanent. The Church has an obvious key role to play in God’s Plan, but not in the replacing of Israel. Rather, Israel does have a future in the Plan of God, and the Promises given to Israel will be fulfilled in Israel. This view is part of what is called Dispensationalism.
A lot more can be said on this subject, but I want to direct my final comments back to the miracle that is modern day Israel. No more than one day after her establishment as a nation, she was invaded by her Arab neighbors. Outnumbered 10-1 in weapons and man power, somehow the nation was able to withstand the onslaught and achieve a victory that many historians say should never have happened. Since her inception as a nation, in 1948, the State of Israel has fought seven recognized wars , two Palestinian intifiadas, and a series of armed conflicts in the broader Arab-Israeli conflict. Keep in mind, much of the land mass that is modern day Israel, was property purchased from Arab owners who had no use for it because of the terrain’s nature. Contrary to many biased in the media, it was not stolen from Israel’s Arab neighbors.
This land , ranging from mosquito infested swamps in the north to barren desert southward has been turned into fertile farmland and crop producing acreage like few other places in the Middle East. How interesting is the prophetic word found in Isaiah chapter 35 verse 1. In referencing Israel, ” The wilderness and desert will be glad, and the Arabah (or desert), will blossom like the crocus.”
Fully recognizing that some prophetic words concerning God’s Mighty Plan of Redemption refer to events and nation states existent at that time, we must keep in mind that the Old Testament scriptures are replete with “types and shadows”- Old Testament events foreshadowing future happenings in God’s Plan. I believe that Isaiah, chapter eleven verse 12 can be fashioned in this way. ” And He will lift up a standard for the nations, and will assemble the banished ones of Israel and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Come to Israel and see. Jews are streaming home-over 4,000.000 making “aliyah” from every country where Jewish people can be found, thus fulfilling prophetic events that would transpire before the Messiah’s Return.
So why should we care about a land so far away? Simply, Israel is the spoon that stirs the cup, so to speak. That is why Jerusalem contains more media and press than almost any other capital in the world. The world is watching and waiting. Something Great is about to unfold! And as believers in the Jewish Messiah, we have been grafted in to God’s wonderful Plan of Redemption and soon from his Throne in Jerusalem, He will rule, and then Jew and Gentile alike will worship Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!