(1 Peter 2:6) “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.”
Recently in Israel a believer from England aged in his 70’s working and witnessing to Jews in Israel was beaten to death by a man wielding a brick. The man with the brick was intending to hit the Englishman’s wife. According to the article it stated; “As a neighbour tried to intervene, the killer excused his actions by declaring: “They’re missionaries!” His lawyer subsequently defended him on the basis that he was being harassed by a ‘Messianic cult’. And police reportedly then raided the ‘victims’ apartment for further ‘evidence’ of the so-called cult’s activities. For a nation that prides itself as being the only true democracy in the Middle East, the response of its authorities to this incident is disgraceful.
The word ‘missionary’ is a term of abuse in Israel these days, particularly among the more religious Orthodox sector. Indeed, it was the religious leaders – his fiercest opponents – whom Jesus reminded of the Psalmist’s statement: “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” (Matt 21.42) The Lord Jesus was quoting Psalm 118.22.
In Biblical times when people went to build any structure in the ancient world the cornerstone was the most important stone in the building. It set the level, angle, and outer dimensions of the building. It had to be level and squared true (vertical) so that all the other stones could be set from it. If it were not level, then as the walls of the building were erected, they would lean and fall. Biblically this ‘cornerstone’ is used as a metaphor for the Messiah our Lord Jesus who is the chief cornerstone of salvation for the nation of Israel, for the true and faithful Church and for the whole world
Today there are multitudes of well-meaning and zealous Evangelical Christians throughout Christendom, who, in their somewhat unrealistic infatuation with Israel and all things Jewish, do not recognize or do not want to recognize that those evangelists and workers who do missionary work in Israel are often resisted, marginalised and in some cases persecuted physically by ultra-orthodox Jews and opposed by secular authorities. It is actually illegal in Israel to try to evangelise young people under the age of 18 years old. The secular authorities call it ‘proselytising.’ Even among those ultra-religious orthodox Jews living a religiously observant lifestyle, the ‘god’ they believe in doesn’t much resemble the God described in the Bible, a book that few of them ever read.
Secular Jewish Israelis, who make up around two thirds of the population, don’t read the Bible for the same reason secular people everywhere don’t read it. While religiously observant people don’t read it because they’re been told all their lives that only the rabbis can correctly interpret the Bible, so all ordinary people can do is read the commentaries rabbis have written about the Bible. Because of this attitude they are kept away from the Bible and most ordinary Jewish people never develop their own relationship with the God of the Bible and they give whatever holy reverence they feel to their rabbis and not to God.
Added to this there is a wide-spread attitude, not only among the people of Israel, but also at the political level that believes that Israel is where it is today because they, by their own will power and determination alone as a people, have accomplished this modern day ‘miracle’ of a nation re-born after 2,000 years of exile. This “re-birth” of the nation was prophesied by Isaiah the prophet. (Isaiah 66:8)
Now according to the prophets in the Old Testament in the last days before the return of the Lord Jesus, the Jews as a nation were to be restored to the Land but they would be gathered while still in unbelief concerning the Messiah. (Ezekiel 37:1-8) It will be in the Land of Israel that the nation will encounter their Messiah and be spiritually restored. (Ezekiel 37:9-14) (Zechariah 12:10-14) Their national restoration came in 1948 but it is still a partial restoration as their full national restoration will only come after the Messiah has come back and every Jew still living has been saved. (Zechariah 14:6-21) (Isaiah 2:1-5) (Micah 4:1-5) (Romans 11:25-29)
This complete spiritual and national restoration will come but only after a time of terrible judgement on the nation because of its unrighteous living and sin and for rejecting their Messiah. Two thirds of the Israelis living in Israel are going to be stuck down and half of the population of Jerusalem taken into exile before the nation turns in repentance and faith to the God of their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and to the Messiah our Lord Jesus. (Zechariah 13:8-9) (Zechariah 14:1-2)
Today by and large Israel is a secular nation that relies upon its own ability to fight and subdue their enemies. God in His grace and mercy has given Israel victories over their enemies since 1948 yet for the most part they do not acknowledge this fact or acknowledge His Son the Messiah our Lord Jesus as the Passover Lamb who has been sacrificed for their sins.
The Jewish people are back in the Land of Israel by God’s decree and set purpose for them as a nation and because of the blood covenant He cut with Abraham to give the land of Israel to be for Abraham’s physical descendants as “an everlasting possession.” (Genesis 17:7-8) The Lord Jesus Himself is the chief cornerstone for the work of salvation for Israel and that without faith in Him there will be no eternal salvation for Israel or for the whole world for that matter. (John 14:6) (Acts 4:12) (1 Peter 2:6) (Romans 2:9-11)
Right now Israel’s leaders are still looking to human agencies for help and not looking to the only one who can save them from all of their enemies and bring them the salvation they desperately need. They are seeking to build the nation of Israel on the crooked cornerstone of human strength and ability which will fail them in the end. By seeking an alliance with other nations to help them stand against their enemies, instead of looking to the LORD and to the Messiah who has provided salvation for Israel, they are looking to the Egypt of this world for support.
Inevitably Israel will find that leaning upon the ‘Egypt’ of this world will prove to be “the splintered staff of a reed that pierces a man’s hand when he leans upon it.” The time of the Big Trouble is coming for Israel, for the Church and for the whole world. It will be a time of distress and trouble unlike anything that has happened in the past or will happen in the future and Israel and the faithful Church will be at the centre of it all. (Matthew 24:21-22) (Daniel 12:1) It will be that Time of the Big Trouble for Israel but a surviving remnant of Jews and by extension and inclusion a faithful remnant of believers within Christendom, will all be saved out of it. (Jeremiah 30:1-10) (Isaiah 10:22) (Romans 9:27) (Matthew 24:29-31)
At present in Israel, when we see faithful Messianic believers being persecuted and disadvantaged by the ultra-religious orthodox Jews and even by the secular authorities by and large, we see the same attitude that the religious Jews had towards our Lord Jesus the Messiah, His apostles and His followers. The Time of Jacob’s Trouble is coming and Israel will not escape it.
Right now through faithful believers in Him the Lord Jesus is seeking to show the nation His pierced hands and feet and his pierced side and the marks of the whip lashes still there on His body even though it is a glorified body. The Lord Jesus is sending His servants the evangelists to warn the nation in the hope that many more will turn back to Him for salvation before judgement comes once again as “the axe (once again) has already been laid to the root!” (Matthew 3:10)
Sadly in Israel today there are some well-meaning and sincere Christians seeking to bless the Jews but not giving them the gospel of the kingdom or in some cases watering down its message. The only way to really bless the Jews is to tell them first of all about the salvation in the Messiah our Lord Jesus and their need to repent and believe on Him who has shed his atoning blood for their sin and rebellion against God. Of course we should pray for the Jews and support them in every way possible in temporal matters but if they do not hear the gospel then they cannot be saved and fully blessed! The way of salvation has not changed!
Right now God is still looking for spiritual fruit from Israel. Even now in a very real sense the Lord Jesus is still sitting on the hillside overlooking Jerusalem and is still saying to His wayward and lost brothers and sisters in the flesh; “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling! Look, your house is left to you desolate.…” (Matthew 23:37-38)
To be fair, there are an increasing number of believers in the Messiah in Israel seeking to bring their unsaved Jewish brothers and sisters in the flesh to a saving knowledge of the Messiah our Lord Jesus before the Time of the Big Trouble hits the nation. Many Jews are coming to faith in the Messiah, not only in Israel but also in the Gentile nations.
The reality is that God is not bringing the Jews back to Israel initially for a blessing but for the Time of the Big Trouble. Once the Messiah our Lord Jesus has come back, saved Israel out of all their troubles and from their enemies, and has inaugurated His Millennial Messianic Kingdom on earth, only then will the nation be fully and forever blessed! (Isaiah 2:1-5) (Micah 4:1-5)
All of Israel’s plans and self-effort and self-reliance to this day and their unbiblical form of Judaism practiced by the ultra-religious Orthodox Jews still leaves the nation physically and spiritually desolate and headed for another abomination of desolation with half Jerusalem’s population going into exile. (Matthew 24:15) (Zechariah 14:1-2)
Only when they turn to their Messiah as a nation and He has returned to reign and rule from Jerusalem will their desolation cease. And so the Apostle Peter writes; “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:6)