I remember the first time I visited Israel. It was in the summer of 1971, and at that point, security was not a strict as it is today. Although it was only a short visit, centered mainly in Jerusalem, it had a significant impact on me that can be expressed in the feeling I had at the time: “This is one place I would like to live.” As it turned out, God never led my family and I to live there. However, I have been there a number of times since that first trip. In 1996 I took my wife Dorothy to a Church Growth Conference in Jerusalem with Dr. Yongi Cho of Seol Korea.
Yes, Israel impacted me, not just in terms of seeing the sites of Biblical events, not just seeing the signs of what was happening in Israel at that time, but also the sense of destiny about the land and the nation; that Israel and the land were a part of God’s timetable leading up to the return of Christ. There is something about Israel, the nation and the land, that grips you. It is to be expected as it is God’s land and God’s nation. So, think with me regarding God and Israel.
GOD FORMED ISRAEL AS A NATION
There are not many, if any, who can truly say that their country was formed by God. I know that some would say that this was the case with America. There are definite signs of this, such as with the Mayflower Compact. However, it is not quite as clear and straightforward as it is in the case of Israel over 3,000 years ago.
It all goes back to Genesis 12, where God told Abraham, the great patriarch of Israel:
“I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
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.”
(Genesis 12:2-3, NKJV).
The covenant promises to Abraham are the basis of the formation of the nation Israel by God. God formed Israel; they are His people.
GOD GAVE A LAND TO THE NATION OF ISRAEL
Genesis 12 begins:
“Now the Lord had said to Abram:
‘Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.’ “
(Genesis 12:1, NKJV).
Right from the beginning, God had chosen a land for the people He was forming. Abraham, as he stepped out in faith and obedience, moved into that land. Strangely, except for the land he needed to bury his wife Sarah, Abraham never actually owned any of it. The Israelites’ actual possession of the land came generations later, in the days of Joshua, after Moses led Israel out of Egypt. God is always interested in the land. He always had a land picked out for His people. It is His land.
There has always been conflict over the land, and we see that even in this day and age. Yet, always remember, God promised the land originally to Abraham, and His promise has not been withdrawn.
GOD PRESERVED ISRAEL THROUGHOUT TIME
Now, one can trace the history of Israel from the days of Abraham, through the lives of the patriarchs, Issac and Jacob, through Joseph to Moses and the children of Israel, on through the kings, especially King David, and the prophets, like Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, on until the coming of the Messiah, Jesus.
In all of that, we see:
Israel was continually disobedient.
Israel suffered because of their disobedience.
Israel was eventually disbursed to other regions, especially in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
But, despite all this, Israel was not destroyed.
Jeremiah 31:35-37 confirms this:
“Thus says the Lord,
Who gives the sun for a light by day,
The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night,
Who disturbs the sea,
And its waves roar
(The Lord of hosts is His name):
‘If those ordinances depart
From before Me, says the Lord,
Then the seed of Israel shall also cease
From being a nation before Me forever.’ ”
(Jeremiah 31:35-37, NKJV).
As one writer put it, “you could no more destroy the Jewish race than you could destroy the sun, the moon and stars. They may be chastised, they may suffer, but God said, ‘I will keep My word to David, His seed shall endure'” (Psalm 89:29)(crosswalk.com).
God has kept His word and preserved Israel even in these last 2,000 years, since the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. God has preserved Israel.
GOD RESTORED THE NATION OF ISRAEL
1948 saw one of the most incredible miracles taken place in history. On May 14th, 1948, Israel became a nation again, in the land where it all began centuries ago. The declaration by David Ben-Gurion in Tel Aviv, proclaiming the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine called Israel, was quickly confirmed by United States president Harry Truman. Truman declared, “The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the new State of Israel” (trumanlibrary.gov). Israel was a nation again, back in the land promised to them in Genesis 12.
This is an incredible miracle. A people dispersed into the nations still retained their identity through 20 centuries until they again formed a political nation. Moreover, those people came together again, still speaking the Hebrew language spoken back in the days of the Bible.
I am amazed above all at this miracle, but also, I am amazed that more Christians do not recognize it as a miracle. Nothing like this has ever happened in the history of the world. To be back as a nation in their original land after 2,000 years, after living in other countries, yet speaking their original language, it had to be God.
GOD HAS A FUTURE FOR ISRAEL
God is not finished with Israel. There is more yet to happen concerning even the capital, Jerusalem. In Genesis 12, God declared that Israel would be a blessing, saying:
“I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing [i.e., to other nations and peoples].”
(Genesis 12:2, NKJV).
Adrian Rogers, Southern Baptist Pastor and author, once wrote on how the Jews have shaped history, “As you study history, you learn that the indestructible Jew has left his indelible mark upon history. The Jewish people are not great in number. Of the world’s population, they are only 0.2%. That’s not two percent. That’s less than one-fourth of one percent. Yet did you know that 22% of Nobel Prize winners have been Jews? In 2013, six of the 12 laureates were Jewish. Think of that.
Abraham’s descendants consistently win high percentages not just of Nobel Prizes but other awards in medicine, health, music, and public life. What a mark they’ve made upon our world.
Did you know it was a Jew who financed Christopher Columbus when he set sail for the west? Of his crew members, the first to set foot on American soil was a Jew. Did you know that a Jew, Haym Salomon, financed General George Washington in our Revolutionary War?
Have you ever taken an aspirin? Friedrich Bayer, whose company developed aspirin, was a Jew. Were you vaccinated for polio as a child? The injectable and oral polio vaccines of Salk and Sabin were so effective, the disease has been all but eradicated.
Has the dentist ever deadened your tooth before he started to drill? Alfred Einhorn, who developed Novocain, was a Jew. If you’re an anti-Semite, the next time you go to the dentist, why don’t you say, “Just drill away, don’t deaden my pain.” Have you ever had local anesthesia? Its inventor, Carl Koller, was a Jew.
When you developed an infection, the doctor prescribed streptomycin, developed by Waksman, a Jew. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was a Jew. Are you a student of philosophy? Spinoza was a Jew. Do you appreciate the SalvationArmy? Its founder, William Booth, had a Jewish mother.
It’s amazing to study the mark God’s chosen people have made on the world. Jews can be thanked for the discovery of electromagnetic waves, the transistor, the first laser, oral contraceptives, antihistamines, anti-leukemia drugs, the electron microscope, vaccines against cholera and bubonic plague, the camera phone, nuclear fission reactor, sound-on-film technology, the discovery of neurotransmitters, the process by which we do MRIs, the Hepatitis-B vaccine, the first exact map of the moon—and do you like American music? Thank George and Ira Gershwin, Aaron Copland, Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein, Lerner and Lowe, and Stephen Sondheim, to name only a few.
All history has been dramatically impacted by six Jews: Moses, Paul, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, and above them all, the Lord Jesus Christ”(crosswalk.com).
BLESSINGS & CURSES
Genesis 12 states that we can experience one of two things regarding Israel. We can recognize the blessings, or we can receive the curses. It is there in the promise to Abraham, and it depends upon how we relate to Israel.
In recent years, anti-semitism has been on the rise worldwide, but following the Israel-Hamas conflict in May of this year it has increased. “A series of violent and destructive incidents… have been happening with alarming regularity in major American cities” (newsmax.com) and elsewhere around the world.
But God is not to be mocked.
Bless Israel, and you will be blessed.
Curse Israel, and you will be cursed.
The choice is yours.
A CLOSING THOUGHT
Romans 10, 11, & 12 make it clear God has a plan to restore His people Israel, and they would be grafted back together with the church and become “one new man” (Ephesians 2:14-18, NKJV).
So let us pray for Israel, the original people of God. Let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem, even as the Bible calls us to. Let us pray for a tremendous outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit upon these ancient people that they might discover their Messiah and experience revival. Let us pray for the day when we will all be united with Him when there will be a new Heaven and new Earth, and a new Jerusalem will come down from Heaven above (Revelation 21:2).
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20, NKJV).