For a Bible-believing Christian, the response to this question is crucial because Israel permeates the whole of Scriptures from Genesis through to Revelation. With over 2,600 references to Israel, Scripture devotes 75% of itself to the history of the Jewish people.
Faulty view or perfect vision
Because Israel is woven into every major bible doctrine, a false conception of who she is, will most assuredly affect one’s understanding of the major covenants of the Bible and misdirect the true intent of the Scriptures.
A faulty view of Israel will inadvertently handicap our competency in understanding the fuller purpose of the Church and the great impact she [the Church] is to have on the world and on Israel as well. Often our own preconceived biases of who the Jewish people are hinder us from appreciating all that God has done through her and what He has promised to continue to do with her until His soon return. How many of us have already read the incredible statistics about this people? Check out Wikipedia’s comprehensive list of the many awards, innovations and contributions she has made to the world, in spite of the fact that she makes up only 0.2% of the earth’s population.
A view from the top
We usually mark someone as friend or foe and once framed as such, they often remain as such. But through God’s dealing with Israel, we see His tender compassion and overwhelming grace materialize. Though frequently angry with Israel because of her sins, God would nevertheless still call out to her in love, affirming His unconditional acceptance of her, vouching repeatedly that He has not finished blessing her. While He may appear to forsake her by inflicting punishment on her through the nations around her, still His protection for her is unceasing… for the Lord says: He who touches you[Israel] touches the apple of My eye.
Romans 9-11 is a remarkable passage of Scripture, using Israel as the example for all saints throughout human history. If God’s faithfulness and love for Israel in unconditional, then by extension, we too can be sure that His faithfulness to us is dependable and unwavering.
You either love her or you hate her…
If we fail to see Israel through God’s lenses, we may easily become anti-Semitic. We may end up unsympathetically reviling her, to the point of utter hatred. On the other end of the spectrum, we may over-justify her, crown her, and idolize her into some super-spiritual race. If we think that way, we might assume that she is so loved by God she might not even need to hear the Gospel in order to be saved. If you hate them, you will distance yourself from them but if you idolize them, you will deem their redemptive need unnecessary, thereby distancing them from God.
There is no question that the presence of the Jew defies logic and therefore draws us to the conclusion that it is not by logic that we seek or learn the truth about Israel. It is by the Spirit who opens our understanding through the Word of God. The Bible is the first book to mention Israel and Jews, transcribing the creation of this nation.Since it is authored by the Almighty, it is imperative to rely on His Word so that we might have an accurate perception of the Jew’s past, present, and future condition.
With a view to seeing much more
Our focus in studying Israel through the Word of God is not so much to draw our attention to the Jew himself or what he has achieved or accomplished, but rather our attention must point to the One who is the cause of their creation and is the reason for their preservation.
The history of the Jews is ultimately the history of God’s unconditional love toward a particular people. His love and concern toward this people demands a response from us. How do we seek to see her? Over 200 times God is called the God of Israel. A true quest for God will reveal God’s heart for Israel. And it’s His perspective we desire to have.
HAILED AS HEROES
Many religious Jews have recently hailed the three kidnapped Israeli students as heroes because their deaths brought Israel to engage Hamas in a war which led to the discovery of the many tunnels they did not know existed. It turned out that these tunnels had many openings right into the land of Israel and some even near populated areas. By July 17th 2014, 33 tunnels were uncovered with over 60 exits deep into Israel.
THE FINDING OF TUNNELS AND THE SAVING OF LIVES
The army discovered, in one of these tunnels, many weapons, maps and IDF uniforms. Imagine how this might have led to a painless entry into Israel, with Hamas masquerading as Israeli soldiers, possibly compromising the lives of many true Israeli soldiers and her civilians. While the deaths of these three students was indeed tragic, we must see further than the event itself when it comes to the preservation of Israel. While the unearthing of these tunnels potentially saved many lives, we also look on another front, the air space and see once again the hand of God in lending His power to protect His promises.
ROCKETS FIRE AND MISS
What can we say concerning these rockets which were constantly firing into the holy Land? The IDF blog*wrote that 11,000 rockets have been launched into Israel since 2005; yet looking back, the damages were quite negligible. How could so many rockets have missed their targets? While the IDF claims that 84% of these rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome, others challenge that statistic and say that no more than 40% and perhaps even less were intercepted (N.Y Times, May, 2013). If we believe the highest figure of 84%, the question is: What about the remaining 16%? We are talking about some 1600 rockets fired into Israel with very little damage.
PROTECTED OR PROTECTING?
While Israel is considered to have one of the best armies in the world, the truth is it cannot by itself guarantee the protection or the existence of Israel. This land is not only surrounded by enemies all about, but is peppered by many towns and villages within, which are hostile to the Jewish state. The hostility is never passive but ongoing. The Times of Israel, July 31, 2014 reported that the army itself was surprised by the relentless determination of Hamas, evidenced by the extensive booby trapping found across the Gaza Strip.
Hamas appears to improve after each war, but their strength does not lie in its weaponry but rather in its hatred. While Hamas stands for Islamic Resistance Movement(Arabic acronym meaning zeal), in the Hebrew, Hamas means violence and this has become its fiercest weapon.
Israel is encompassed: Hamas in the west, Hezbollah in the north, and in the east lures the darkness of ISIS. All these groups are armed with a hatred that defies logic. Considering these terror tunnels, these deadly rocket attacks and this inexplicable hatred growing against the people of God, it is time that we speak loudly concerning the protective hand of God on His people.
DON’T JUST WHISPER THE WARNINGS
Could these disturbing and intrusive elements we are currently witnessing in Israel be another call, an appeal from God to His people, typical of how He has warned them so often in their history. In the Book of Amos, before each great calamity struck the people of Israel, God repeated, five times, these poignant words to them, “You have not returned to Me” (Amos 4:6,8,9,10,11). The Lord sent all sorts of calamities, each with an increasing degree of severity. In the fourth warning, He reminded Israel that He had allowed their young men to die so that they would turn to Him for protection (4:10). But they did not. At the end of these warnings, God says this to Israel, "Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!"(Vs.12) Prepare to meet your God. It is our prayer that Israel would take heed from all these present signs and warnings, and meet the Lord as their Savior and not be bound to endure he fires of the Tribulation which, as it would seem, is coming so very soon.
FROM VIOLENCE TO VICTORY
For us who believe in Yeshua these are signs point to the end, and bid us to look up for the coming Rapture. These signs demand a response from us to pray and double our efforts in bringing the Good News about Yeshua to our people. They need to be forewarned that, only through the Messiah , would there come a time when “Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, Neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; But you shall call your walls Salvation, And your gates Praise”. (Isaiah 60:18)
While the opening word in this verse is the Hebrew word Hamas, meaning violence, the Hebrew word for salvation, Yeshua, is found at the end of the verse, that very name of the Savior Himself. Israel needs to know that it is only through that Name that protection will finally come for her. Violence will be defeated by faith in the Son who will bring the victory of His Kingdom to rest in the Land of Israel.
We pray that you are rejoicing in the feasts of the Lord and also praying for the peace of Jerusalem. We look forward to when these feats will finish (third week of October) so that our outreach team will begin their door to door campaign distributing bibles to Jewish homes in Montreal. We will keep you posted with all the interesting conversations and exchanges which take place during these evening outreaches. We value your prayers.
In Psalm 17:8 David prayed that God would shelter him. He wrote, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye”. The apple of the eye is an expression, referring to the centre or pupil of the eye; an area which demands utmost protection from injury, for through that pupil light enters for vision. The apple of God’s eye is a place where Israel has been invited to reside, it is their place of shelter which God guards with utmost care. Israel has a special calling, a special relationship and a special place in God’s plan. She was and still is the apple of God’s eye. Scriptures confirm this in Zech 2:9. He will protect her and guard her, just as He promised.
The name Israel first appeared in Genesis 32:28, awarded to Jacob after his struggle with the Man. “And He[the Man] said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” This is the first of the approximate 2400 times the name of Israel is used in the Bible.
Struggling within the name
We cannot be certain of its exact meaning, but some very interesting observations result when we begin analyzing the name, Israel. This Hebrew word is composed of two smaller words, sarah and el. The root word sarah means to fight, to prevail or to have power as a prince : Hosea 12:3 reads “He took his brother by the heel in the womb, And in his strength he struggled (sarah)) with God. The word el means strength or might. It is the singular form of Elohim, a name attributed to God more than 2200 times in the Bible.
Interestingly, it does not really matter how one interprets the word sara in Gen. 32:28. Whether one reads it as struggling against God or struggling along with God – both situations describe Israel’s relationship with her Creator.
On the one hand when Israel struggles for her survival, she comes alongside God. But in His desire for Israel to recognize her Messiah, she struggles against God. In whichever position Israel finds herself, whether struggling with or against God, the Lord’s perspective of her never changes. While He may appear to be against her at various times throughout history, these actions nonetheless will serve to one day bring this nation into a perfect relationship with Him. This side by side struggle is well illustrated when both the Jewish nation and her Messiah are called ‘Israel’.
In the Servant Song of Isaiah, the title Israel is given to the Messiah Himself. We read in Isaiah 49:3 “And He said to Me, `You are My Servant, O Israel, In whom I will be glorified.’" Who is the Me that God is addressing here? Our answer is found in verse 5. “And now the LORD says, Who formed Me (the Messiah) from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, So that Israel is gathered to Him… The Messiah is the Servant of Jehovah Who has been given the name Israel. Why? The nation of Israel failed to be the righteous servant of God, the servant who was supposed to bring the other nations to the Lord. And so when they failed, the Lord provided the perfect Servant who would not only be the light to the Gentiles, but would even bring wandering Israel back to the Lord. This Servant Messiah came up along side Israel, taking over her responsibility and completing the task for her. What a fascinating and intimate relationship between God and His chosen ones. Since 75% of the Bible devotes itself to the history of the chosen people and her land, we need to give the Jewish nation careful consideration.
Few in number, but far in accomplishments
There are, perhaps, fifteen million Jews in a world of close to seven billion people. How does less than 1 per cent of the world’s population exert such weight and influence? When historians speak of men who have affected the course of history, famous Jewish names come to mind… such as Albert Einstein, Carl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Carl Sagen, and even Harry Houdini, the greatest escape artist in history. Jewish influence even affects the way we dress with jeans inventor Levi Strauss.
Concerning the Nobel prize awards – 22% of all recipients were Jews. Because Jewish influence and achievements have been so commendable, jealousy draws some people to conclude that there must be some kind of conspiracy by the Jews to take over the world.
Who is a Jew?
It is easy to define with certain accuracy, who a Jew is if we remain loyal to the law of first mention, that is, if we go by the Bible’s rendering, since it is the earliest book to mention the birth of this people. The confusion arises when we look elsewhere, into cultural, traditional or secular means to satisfy our own preconceived notions.
Setting the precedence
Even the modern state of Israel had difficulty defining a Jew. In 1950 Israeli citizenship was granted to any Jew under the Law of Return. But the government couldn’t unanimously decide on a definition of who should be considered Jewish. Finally, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled that the Law of Return does not apply to Jews who abandon Judaism for another religion. But it wasn’t that simple. The majority of Jews were atheists, so the government had to draw up a special clause, granting them easy access to citizenship in spite of their departure from a Jewish religious philosophy.
Then in 1970, the Israeli Supreme Court decided that the term, Jew, referred to a nationality and not necessarily to a religion. Because of religious opposition, the government enacted a new law, defining a Jew as either one born of a Jewish mother or one who converted to Judaism. Did the religious opposition forget that the two sons of Joseph, Menasseh and Ephraim had a non Jewish mother, yet they constituted two major tribes of Israel? And concerning conversion: one may convert to another faith, such as Judaism, but one cannot become a Jew, since Scriptures clearly define the Jew as a people, as a nationality, as a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. One cannot change their genetic heritage. A Jew is not defined by the jeans they wear, but rather by the genes they share.
Remaining loyal to the law of first mention would not only help us define who is a Jew, but would help us in matters concerning our eternal future, that is, in defining the Messiah. In Judaism today, you have a multitude of theories concerning the origin, purpose, and person of the Messiah. Again, it would appear that people have neglected to respect the law of first mention. They neglect to fully investigate the Tanach, where the very idea of a Jewish Messiah was first conceived and developed. I don’t know if you think this goes or not.
Israel is a nation that was created by God, named by Him and a nation which plays a key role in bringing out His pre-determined plans. With this, we see God’s purpose in securing her protection. When you touch Israel, you touch the apple of God’s eye.
J. Isaac Gabizon
Various teachings about Israel and the Jewish people.