The Significance of Israel to End-time Prophecies
Prof. Johan Malan - English Articles,
School of Social Sciences, University of Limpopo
A large part of the Bible deals with Israel. In a very special sense they are the chosen people of God. He called them to be a holy people and led them to the Promised Land; He then dispersed them among the nations because of their disobedience; and it is the same immutable covenant God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who will restore Israel to the land of their fathers in the end-time.
The calling of Israel started with Abraham, who is the progenitor of Israel. God said to him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants for ever” (Gen. 13:14-15). This promise of the land was later confirmed to Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 26:3; 28:13).
Before inheriting the Promised Land, the descendants of the founding patriarchs first spent 400 years as strangers in Egypt, where they became the slaves of the Egyptians (Gen. 15:13-14). Then they earnestly called on the Lord to deliver them from their bondage and misery. After the sacrificial lamb was slaughtered and the first Passover celebrated, God led His people out of Egypt with a mighty arm. Through these events Israel learnt the lesson that they could not take possession of God’s promises in their own strength. The sacrificial lamb also pointed to the Messiah as the true Lamb of God. By His sacrifice and the shedding of His blood He would redeem people from their spiritual bondage and lead them into the kingdom of God (John 1:29).
Israel had to discover the principle that they were first to become a people of God who observe His laws and statutes before they could live in the land that He promised to them. They were called to be a separated and dedicated people through whom God could reveal Himself to the world. Their calling to Canaan, therefore, also included a spiritual calling.
The Lord set a clear spiritual standard to Israel for the privilege of being called a people of God. Should they continuously fail to meet this standard, they would invite the displeasure and even the anger of God against them. Extended periods of national disobedience resulted in God surrendering Israel to their enemies. Through experiences such as this they learned in the hard way the consequences of straying from God. After they had humbled themselves before the Lord and confessed their sins, He again restored them to their land (Lev. 26; Deut. 30).
The warnings to Israel explicitly included the possibility of a long international dispersion, should they continue with their disobedience and rebellion against God: “Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other” (Deut. 28:64). “I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste” (Lev. 26:33).
The Babylonian captivity of Israel, which was confined to one area, was obviously not the international diaspora to all nations. The diaspora only occurred in the first century AD, and was finally announced by Jesus after He was rejected as Messiah by Israel. Prior to and in His prophetic discourse (Matt. 23 and 24) He told the apostate religious leaders that they were filling up the measure of their fathers’ sins, and that Jerusalem would be destroyed as a result. In Luke 21 He indicated that the dispersion of Israel would continue for a long period during the times of the Gentiles: “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near… For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled… For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this [Israeli] people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:20-24). The siege and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70 was the start of the long international dispersion of Israel that lasted for almost two millennia. At some time during the diaspora there have been Jewish exiles in all countries of the world.
Never in all of Israel’s existence as a nation was there ever the slightest doubt of the validity of the unconditional promises that God made to the founding fathers of the nation. God Himself was, and still is, the guarantor of the Abrahamic (Gen. 15:18), Canaanitic (Num. 33:51–34:15) and Davidic (2 Sam. 7:12-16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37) covenants that ensure the eternal allocation of the land as well as the permanence of David’s throne. Israel’s exile from the land because of disobedience cannot invalidate these covenants. Even if Israel is unfaithful, God remains a faithful covenant-keeping God who will again restore the nation to their land.
A solemn assurance to this effect was given long before the Babylonian captivity and the international diaspora: “Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the Lord” (Lev. 26:44-45).
The partial gathering of Israel from their international exile is a physical restoration to the land of their fathers, but the final objective with this process is their spiritual revival from the apostate condition into which they have lapsed: “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God… I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and… I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God” (Ezek. 36:22-28).
A spiritual cleansing must occur after Israel has been restored to their land. It will coincide with great distress and tribulation. God says that He will refine the remnant of Israel in the fire of His wrath (Zech. 13:9). Jeremiah also refers to this time when he says: “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it” (Jer. 30:7). This time of trouble is the coming great tribulation when Israel will call on God for mercy and help: “In their affliction they will diligently seek Me” (Hos. 5:15).
The restoration of Israel occurs progressively: they are first physically and politically restored as a nation, but in the same spiritually blinded state that prevailed during their dispersion. Back in the land, God will allow a great tribulation upon them from which a remnant will be saved (Rom. 9:27). “Therefore thus says the Lord God: because you have all become dross, therefore behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so will I gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you… then you shall know that I, the Lord, have poured out My fury on you” (Ezek. 22:19-22). The Jews are restored to their land to be spiritually purified.
The status of the city of Jerusalem is a very significant indication of the progressive physical restoration of Israel, and of the end of the times of the Gentiles. In Luke 21:24 the Lord Jesus said that Jerusalem would be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. The end-time restoration of Jerusalem is therefore an important parameter for the revival of the Jewish nation, while it also indicates the end of the church dispensation. It is not a sudden and quickly passing sign which leaves one no time to react to it, but a gradual process. The various phases of this process can be distinguished as follows:
· In 1948, with the declaration of Israel as an independent Jewish state, the Jews only controlled the new, western part of Jerusalem. The Old City and the Temple Mount were at that time still under Jordanian control.
· In 1967, in the Six Day War, Israel gained control over the whole of Jerusalem, and also over the West Bank, the Golan Heights and other areas. At that stage, Jerusalem was physically restored and its Jewish population entered a phase of rapid increase.
· In 1980, Jerusalem was declared the eternal, undivided capital of Israel, and Prime Minister Begin moved his office from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim, the city of destiny. During the next two years, all his cabinet members were relocated. At that stage, the constitutional restoration of the city was complete. Its physical and political trampling was now over.
· After 1980, the spiritual trampling of Jerusalem still continued. Three Muslim mosques are on the Temple Mount, and this area is under the control of an Islamic committee, the Wakf. According to biblical prophecies, the orthodox faith of Israel will strongly revive and the temple will also be rebuilt. This initiative will coincide with the continued rejection of the once for all sacrifice of Jesus as the true Messiah of Israel (Heb. 10:10).
The rebuilt temple will be desecrated by the false messiah (Antichrist). When Israel revoke their covenant with him, they will be driven out of the city. It will only be at the coming of the true Messiah to the Mount of Olives, that Jerusalem and the remnant of Israel will be spiritually restored. Several important events will occur before this time, most of which will form part of the coming tribulation period.
The three salient features of Israel’s four thousand year-long history, i.e. their calling, dispersion and restoration, all occurred within a single generation. While the total life-span of a generation is 70 years (Ps. 90:10), an adult generation only represents a period of 40 years, i.e. between the ages of 30 and 70. Adult status is reached at the age of 30, when men become eligible for appointment as priests and members of the Jewish Council (Num. 4:3). Jesus also had to comply with this rule before His earthly ministry as prophet and religious teacher could commence.
God always holds adults accountable for their decisions and actions, and therefore often deals with adult generations of 40 years. Concerning the generation of Israel’s calling and establishment in their land, the Bible says: “So the Lord's anger was aroused against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the Lord was gone” (Num. 32:13; also see Ps. 95:10).
The two other important generations relate to their international dispersion after the rejection of the Messiah, and their end-time restoration prior to the Second Coming of the Messiah. These two are also the first and last generations of the Christian dispensation between the first and second comings of Christ. They are both transitional generations. In the first generation after the crucifixion, Israel was gradually phased out as God’s representatives on earth, while the church was progressively phased in by way of the early evangelistic endeavours. In the last generation, Israel is phased in and restored to their land in preparation of their important role during the Millennium, while the church should prepare itself to be phased out by way of the rapture.
Referring to the first generation after His crucifixion, Jesus said: "Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt… Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!” (Matt. (23:32-39). “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near… For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:20-24).
Jesus addressed His contemporaries in the year 32, i.e. the adult generation of people who were 30 years or older at the time. Within their adult life-span of 40 years, these prophecies were all fulfilled. 38½ years after the crucifixion of Jesus, the Romans captured and destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70 and took the surviving Jews as captives of war to various countries. Jesus’ prophecy was literally fulfilled during one generation.
Since that fateful first generation, Jerusalem was trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles would be fulfilled, thereby ushering in the last generation before the return of Christ. The restoration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city took place in August 1980. At an unknown date, but before the end of this terminal generation, the church will be raptured to heaven, the Antichrist will be revealed and the seven years of the tribulation period take their course.
The Lord Jesus said about the last generation: “And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. And [after that] there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near… Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things are fulfilled” (Luke 21:25-32; see also Matt. 24:34).
Although we should refrain from date setting we must nevertheless try to understand the temporal framework of the two critical generations in the Christian dispensation, which are also associated with the dispersion and restoration of Israel. It is highly significant that both these generations are linked to events in Jerusalem. The first generation was ushered in by Jerusalem’s rejection and crucifixion of its Messiah-King (Matt. 23:37), and this generation ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of its inhabitants (Matt. 23:38, Luke 19:41-44; 21:20-24). The last generation started with the restoration of Jerusalem as the capital of modern Israel in 1980 (Luke 21:24), and will be consummated when the Messiah-King again comes to Jerusalem – this time to be fully accepted by the remnant of Israel (Matt. 23:39; Zech. 12:10; 14:4-5).
The 70th year-week of Daniel
The prophet Daniel describes the last 70 year-weeks (490 prophetic years of 360 days each) that will pass in the history of Israel before they enter the time of everlasting righteousness (Dan. 9:24-27). Of this period, 69 year-weeks (483 years) have passed between the decree by Artaxerxes in the year 445 BC that Jerusalem was to be rebuilt (Neh. 2:1‑8), and the death of Jesus on the cross in AD 32. Then the clock stopped ticking for Israel as a nation in the divine plan of God, and the time for the evangelisation of the non-Jewish world began. That meant that Israel would temporarily lose its position as a unique people and representative of God, and that all people, including the dispersed Israelites, would be given the opportunity to accept the Lord Jesus as Messiah and enter the kingdom of God by becoming members of the church (or body) of Christ.
With the present restoration of Israel and the city of Jerusalem we are now very close to the end of the church age: “Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). We are now living in the period of Jerusalem’s and Israel’s progressive restoration, so the last year-week of Israel’s divine history may soon commence. At the start of the 70th year-week of seven years, Israel will enter into a covenant with the false messiah (Antichrist). Daniel 9:27 reads: “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week.” The false messiah will appear on the scene as a diplomat and peacemaker.
The Antichrist will be endowed with all of Satan’s powers of deception (Rev. 12:9; 13:2), and will use these powers to perform astounding “signs and lying wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9) to deceive Israel and the nations into concluding the above-mentioned covenant with him. His success as peacemaker in the Middle East will form a springboard from which he will rise to power in the Mediterranean alliance of the revived Roman Empire. All countries will eventually become signatories of the peace treaties of the false messiah, and he will use the Mediterranean alliance to become the undisputed peacemaker and global leader. His success and diplomatic skills will deceive nearly everyone. At that stage, few people would dare to allege that he is involved in the greatest deception of all time, and that he would, within a few years, become the worst dictator in the entire history of the world!
Most of the Jews will be influenced by these highly dramatic events and will be quick to accept this man as their messiah. He will probably use a false genealogy, which will lead them to believe that he is indeed a descendant of King David and a member of the tribe of Judah. The Lord Jesus warned the Jews against this fatal mistake: “I have come in My Father’s Name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive” (John 5:43). The false messiah will introduce a world‑wide peace and unity, and encourage the Jews to rebuild the temple. This will render him a national hero in Israel. Soon he will also become the hero of all the nations of the world by presenting himself as their common messiah. He will pretend to be the Messiah to the Jews, the Christ to the Christians, the Imam Mahdi to the Muslims, Krishna to the Hindus and the Maitreya Buddha to the Buddhists.
After the sensational revelation of the universally accepted world leader, posing, like Satan, as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), at the start of the seven year period there will be a revival in Israel with 144 000 Jews accepting Jesus as the true Messiah. They will openly declare that the man officially recognised as Messiah by the Israeli government is a false messiah. This revelation will cause great consternation and tension in Israel and immediately lead to the persecution of all who refuse to worship the false messiah.
Halfway through the seven year period, the whole world will be shocked out of the false sense of peace that it has enjoyed for three and a half years: “For when they say, Peace and safety! then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labour pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (1 Thess. 5:3).
Israel will be greatly disillusioned when they realise that they have been worshipping a false messiah who pretends to be God Himself. They will immediately revoke their covenant with him. The false messiah will then forbid them to sacrifice in the name of God, and instead erect a statue of himself in the Holy of holies in the newly built temple in Jerusalem, and demand worship: “...and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and offering to cease [for the remaining three and one-half years]; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate; until the full determined end is poured out on the desolator” (Dan. 9:27 Amplified Bible). The false messiah will then be revealed as a ruthless dictator.
As in World War II, genocide will be perpetrated against the Jews during the second half of the tribulation – in that 3½ year period known as the “great tribulation” (Matt. 24:21) or “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7). The true Messiah described this time of terror in His prophetic discourse: “Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place… then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains… For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Mt. 24:15-21). Daniel also refers to the dark days of the coming tribulation period in his prophecies about the end-time: “And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation” (Dan. 11:31).
When the covenant with Israel has been broken and the false messiah declares himself to be God, the Jews will flee to a place of refuge. Then 42 months (1 260 days) will elapse before the true Messiah descends to the Mount of Olives. As this moment draws near, surviving Jews will return to Jerusalem, determined to be at the Mount of Olives by the Day of Atonement, to meet their Messiah. It will be an extremely dangerous time for them, as the false messiah will still endeavour to kill all the Jews he can find. At this stage there will be a powerful multi-national force in Israel. They will be under the command of the false messiah and the false prophet, and deployed to surround Jerusalem. Their objectives will be to annihilate Israel and to kill the coming Messiah (Zech. 14:2-3; Rev. 19:19-20).
The Jews who return to Jerusalem to await the Messiah will need to be deeply convinced that He really is about to come imminently, as their journey and approach to the city will be fraught with dangers. The enemy will be all around them, and a heavily armed military force will be closing in upon them with every passing minute. Many houses will be plundered in Jerusalem as the invaders start demolishing the city. People will flee to the Mount of Olives in panic. Some of them will even lose hope completely and say: “Our hope is lost: we are cut off” (Ezek. 37:11).
When the false messiah is about to cut off and kill the remnant of Israel, the dramatic event of the Second Coming of the Messiah will occur. The prophet Zechariah describes the momentous events of that day: “For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem … Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall split in two, from east to west, making a very big valley; half of the mountain shall move towards the north and half of it towards the south. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley … thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You... And the Lord shall be King over all the earth... And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths. It shall come to pass in that day that a great panic from the Lord will be among them. Everyone will seize the hand of his neighbour, and raise his hand against his neighbour’s hand” (Zech. 14:2‑13).
At this critical moment when the wrath of God is poured out upon a sinful world, mercy and grace will still be offered by Jesus to the remaining Jews who put their trust in Him and hope for His salvation. When the dark clouds of judgement engulf Jerusalem and its surroundings, the remaining Jews will flee into the place of refuge caused by the sudden cleaving of the mountain. There, literally at the feet of Jesus, they will be safe. Great confusion will prevail among their enemies who will start killing one another. The Lord says: “It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pieced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a first-born” (Zech. 12:9-10).
The remnant of Israel will become appalled when they see the marks in His hands, and their first words to Him will be: “What are these wounds in Your hands? Then He will answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends” (Zech. 13:6). It will be a dramatic reunion, mingled with joy and sorrow. The remnant of Israel will grieve for what they have done and the nation will accept Jesus as the Messiah. Then all will be lost for the false messiah and his hordes on this last day of the tribulation when they face the One who has all power in heaven and on earth: “And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence… These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse” (Rev. 19:19‑21).
This is a description of the battle of Armageddon, which is part of God’s judgement upon a Christ-rejecting world who turned their backs on the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the people of God, Israel, and the true church of God among all nations. After the rapture of the church and the martyrdom of the believers who were saved during the tribulation, Satan and his hordes will unleash their full fury against Israel and also try to avert the return of the Messiah to the Mount of Olives. In so doing, they will become the objects of God’s wrath.
The Lord warned the nations against this encounter: “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgement with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land” (Joel 3:1-2). The nations, who persecuted Israel and pressurised them to divide their God-given land among themselves and their enemies, will be judged by God in the land of Israel.
Salvation of the remnant
After the Messiah has made His appearance on the Mount of Olives and revealed Himself as the One crucified by Israel during His first coming two thousand years ago, a time of great mourning will follow. This mourning will lead to the salvation of the whole remnant of Israel: “In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem… and the land shall mourn, every family by itself… In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness” (Zech. 12:11-12; 13:1). The remnant that will survive the severe afflictions of the tribulation will only be a third of the nation: “And it shall come to pass in all the land, says the Lord, that two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, This is My people; and each one will say, The Lord is my God” (Zech. 13:8-9).
The national salvation of Israel will have wonderful consequences: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech. 8:23). Jeremiah says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah… I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jer. 31:31-34).
From Matthew’s account of the Second Coming it is evident that a remnant of all the nations will share in the mourning of Israel when they see Christ coming in power and glory: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30). After this wonderful day, no idols will be worshipped or non-Christian religions practised (Zech. 13:2). Two of Israel’s neighbours, Egypt and Syria, are specifically mentioned as eminent examples of future Christian nations in the Middle East (Isa. 19:24-25).
During the subsequent millennial reign of Christ the saved remnant of Israel will rejoice in the Lord and evangelise the entire world (Isa. 12:3-6; 40:9; 51:11). “Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit” (Isa. 27:6). The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Is. 11:9-10; Hab. 2:14). Satan will be securely bound so that he cannot deceive the nations (Rev. 20:1-4). Peace will prevail everywhere. There will be no more war or military training and weapons will be recycled for peaceful uses (Is. 2:4; 9:7; Mic. 5:4-5; Hos. 2:18). The Messiah will not only reign as Prince of peace, King of kings and Lord of lords, but also as King of the Jews – as Pilate had so rightly written as the superscription above the cross of the suffering Messiah (Luke 23:38).
To ensure God’s blessing upon us, we must bless Israel. God said to Abraham, the founding father of Israel, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). Do not rush to condemn them because they crucified Jesus – remember Gentiles participated! It was indeed a wicked act of unbelief, but it was part of God’s plan of salvation for Israel and the nations. If the atoning death of the Lord Jesus had not taken place, you and I could not have been reconciled to God, nor become Christians.
“I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!” (Rom. 11:11-12). Because Israel has rejected and crucified their Messiah, redemption has been offered to the non-Jewish peoples of the world. In their fallen state Israel is, therefore, a blessing to the entire world as their spiritual inheritance is offered to all people! In Romans 11:12 the Lord clearly says that in their future, spiritually restored state, Israel will be an even greater blessing to the world.
Christians owe a debt of gratitude, recognition, blessing, intercession, and support to Israel. God would provoke them to jealousy (Rom. 11:11-15) by our worshipping and serving their God, Yahweh Elohim, through their Messiah, Yeshua! We must also pray for the peace of Jerusalem if we wish to prosper in our own country (Ps. 122:6).
The reason why all believers should in a very serious and dedicated way intercede for Jerusalem is because it is the city of the great King (Ps. 48:2). This is the city where our Lord revealed Himself as King, died on the cross to propitiate for our sins, rose from the dead on the third day, and ascended to heaven. Ten days after He ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon 120 faithful and praying disciples, resulting in the birth of the Christian church in Jerusalem. From here, the message of salvation was proclaimed and carried to the uttermost parts of the world (Acts 1:8).
It is to the city of Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, that the Messiah will return at the end of the tribulation period to save the remnant of Israel, to judge His enemies, and to establish His kingdom on earth. In answer to the many prayers of the saints, and in accordance with His divine will, the Lord will transform Jerusalem to be the world capital, the wonderful city of the Messiah, and rule the millennial world from the restored throne of David (Is. 62:6-7). “At that time Jerusalem shall be called The throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem; they shall walk no more after the stubbornness of their evil heart” (Jer. 3:17).
How do we know that the blessings promised to Israel and Jerusalem still await final fulfilment? Divine prophecies of Israel being re-gathered to their land, spiritually revived, elevated above all nations and abundantly blessed (Deut. 28:1-14; 30:1-4; Ezek. 36:24-28; Is. 60:1-22; Hos. 14:5-8; Rom. 11:26-27) have never been fulfilled. On the contrary, no nation has suffered and survived anything like the prolonged worldwide dispersion, disdain, persecution, hatred and genocide which the people of Israel have during the past two millennia. God’s promises never fail – they will be honoured in the Millennium.
Different responses to the restoration of Israel
The restoration of Israel elicits immense resistance from the enemies of this nation. The kingdom of darkness is fully aware of God’s future plans with Israel and seeks to oppose them with everything in its power. That is the main reason for the campaign of hatred against the Jews. God’s enemies are also the enemies of His true church and of His people, Israel: “For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against your people… they have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more” (Ps. 83:2-4).
Despite the religious formalism and deadness of the Jewish people, there is no justification at all for waging a campaign of hatred against them. This is one of the most foolish and self-destructive things nations or individuals could do. To act against the declared will and purposes of God is to pierce ourselves with many sorrows. Consider what happened to Israel as a nation because of rejecting God! The same God warns the enemies of Israel, but blesses their friends (Gen. 12:3).
We should rather pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6) as this city is destined to resume its role as a place of divine revelation. When Jesus Christ comes back, He will not only be King of the kings worldwide, but specifically also the King of the Jews. When the angel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus, he said about the Child: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:32). The throne of David was in Jerusalem and still needs to be restored, hence the promise of the Lord Jesus: “I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen down. I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does all these things” (Acts 15:16-17).
When this prophecy is fulfilled after the Second Coming of Christ, Jerusalem will be the centre of God’s kingdom on earth: “Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:3-4). “Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord” (Zech. 8:22).
With a view to this wonderful future of Jerusalem, Israel and the whole world, we are reminded to pray for Jerusalem and the revelation of God’s glory from that city: “You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isa. 62:6). It stands to reason that when Jerusalem is fully restored and elevated to its new status as world capital, its inhabitants will also undergo a change of heart. Paul says: “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins” (Rom. 11:25-27).
We are awaiting the return of the Holy One of Israel (Isa. 43:3).
Source: The Holy Bible, New King James Version, unless otherwise stated.
P.S. For supporting literature, please consult the website www.bibleguidance.co.za