In this series we’ve generally been looking at ‘events’ – short-term occurrences with prophetic significance. Starting in this installment I’d like to turn our attention to a long-term Biblical theme that has ridden down through the centuries yet has End Times implications; God’s heart of Israel. [I anticipate that this will be a series within a series.]
ISRAEL & THE HEART OF GOD – 1
There have been two constants that run through history, no matter how one might parse it: Man’s rebellion against God and a hate for God’s People, Israel. This is true from the ancient Persians to the modern ones, the Iranians; from the Romans to the Islamists to the Palestinians to the Nazis and Communists; from overtly persecuting nations like the Germans of WWII to persecuted nations like the Poles. Jew hatred runs deep. That hatred is driven by something called Replacement Theology (RT). It is the notion that the Jews have been set aside; that they have forfeited the promises of and the blessings and that these have been appropriated by the Church. It is more than a philosophical understanding that has infected a huge portion of Christianity. Its roots are Older & Deeper than we might think. And it’s been the inspiration for severe damage …….and ongoing persecution ……..for centuries.
Before we begin our study in earnest, I want to reference two items that hit the news that speaks to an institutionalized example of nationally sponsored anti-Semitism. The first is the recent nuclear arms agreement between Iran on the one hand and the five permanent members of th UN Security Council: the US, Russia, China, Great Britain and France – with Germany thrown in for good measure, on the other. The P5+1, as they’re called have basically given the green light to the Iranian nuclear program. Tehran gets hundreds of billions of dollars, they get to continue to develop missiles capable of hitting the US, they get to continue to sponsor terror, they get to still say they hate Israel and want her destroyed – and the West gets……..well, I’m not sure what the West gets. [But President Obama says it’s something good!] In the name of peace we have forged a covenant with death and hell. We have sold our ally Israel for an empty and unenforceable promise of peace in our time. This deal makes Chamberlain’s Munich Agreement look like a declaration of war. And then there is this news nugget. That betrayal of Israel apparently dates back to 2012. It was then that the White House sent carriers to the region – not though to keep Iran in check – but to have aircraft in place to intercept and engage Israeli planes should they launch an attack against the Iranian nuclear plants.
You see, the world, and even America it seems, is not interested in blessing God’s People. The World – and America – is instead interested in establishing a the non-existent Palestinian nation on land promised to Israel by God. Scripture tells us there is coming a day when all the nations will turn against Israel and Jerusalem. The lie or Replacement Theology has taken hold. But it is NOT God’s will. It is NOT God’s heart. So let’s begin.
“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—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to themsays the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: 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…… 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.” (Jeremiah 31:31-33, 34)
Let’s start with this one principle in mind: We serve a multi-faceted God. His character is reflected in His Names and revealed in Scripture. He is the Creator God, Elohay Kedem – God of the Beginning: (Deuteronomy 33:27) He is the God of Justice, Elohay Mishpat: (Isaiah 30:18) and the God of Forgiveness, Elohay Selichot. God is also Jehovah-Rapha: The Lord Who Heals You and Jehvah Jireh, the Provider God. By Scripture we know that He is the God who sustains and the God of History and Prophecy. Isaiah 46:9-10 reads: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” But what is God’s pleasure? What is God’s heart?
Let’s start by looking at prophecy. God promises “that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) He works an incredible calculus to fulfill that promise. Think on this: Man operates in the realm of Free Will. We each make millions of decisions in the course of our lifetimes. Taken together, billions of people make billions of free will decisions every day; the majority of these, I would venture, are at cross purposes with the perfect will of God. Yet somehow, out of it all, God accomplishes His purposes. And we live in a time when God’s prophetic plans is unfolding before our eyes in the daily news. That prophecy shows the End Game. But it shows something more. It shows God’s heart.
It’s been working from the beginning. Look how it’s played out. In the beginning, in the Garden, God created a perfect environment. Adam and Eve rebelled. The Righteous Judge must act, yet He provides a pathway to forgiveness. His heart is reconciliation with His creation. And so Messiah is promised. God makes a way.
Some centuries later comes the days of Babel and the days of Noah. Rebellion fills the land. Paganism takes hold. With the exception of Noah and his family, the entire earth turns from the counsel of God. Judgement is decreed on those who will not bow the knee. But in the midst of this worldwide destruction, God makes a way. His heart is for man. And the story continues over and over. Man continues to rebel – and God continues to work toward His purposes – to fulfill the desire of HIs heart. He has promised to provide a Messiah, a Saviour. So He establishes a nation where there is none; Israel. He calls Israel “my beloved.” (Isaiah 5:1) And He blesses them – and they rebel – and God chastens them – and they repent – and He restores them. That’s the formula. Just shake and repeat. The times of rebellion are always followed by times of repentance – then times of restoration.
Then in the fullness of time, Messiah comes. But for the most part, the nation of Israel does not recognize Him nor accept Him. And they are once again scattered, “because,” as He told them, “you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:44) So they are once again scattered; a result of their free will choice. Yet God uses that event to bring the Gentile nations to faith. It is in Romans 11:11-12 that Paul asks and answers his own question. “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!” If you notice, couched in Paul’s response is the promise of Israel’s eventual restoration. So we have traced events to the days of the early Church – and that’s where we’ll pick it up next time. Because what happened in the centuries that followed has set the tone for how our world treats Israel and the Jews through history and even today. It is a sad and shameful and fascinating story – and we’ll begin to tackle that nest time.