Israel in the Last Days-Introduction

(Psalm 33: 11-12) “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chooses for his inheritance.”

An immovable stone

Today there are many nations who want to see the dissolution of Israel as a nation. Many Islamic nations are calling for the destruction of Israel and even the United Nations in reality does not really support Israel but are always presenting them in a negative light and calling for sanctions against them in one form or another. The media is also biased in its reports of Israel. It seems today everyone is ganging up on Israel. For many today nations Israel is “a thorn in the flesh,” however, God thinks of Israel differently. God Himself says that in these last days before Jesus returns He will make Israel “an immovable rock for all the nations” and that any nation who moves against Israel will ultimately ‘injure’ or ‘tear’ themselves. (Zechariah 12:1-3) Even in the professing Christian Church Many Christians believe that the Church has replaced Israel and that God has rejected His ancient people and that He no longer has a plan for them. However God’s Word clearly tells us that they are still His people and that He will fulfil all His promises made to them. Many Christians have failed to recognize that the New Covenant was made with Israel and not the Church.

1. God made the New Covenant with Israel and not with the Church.

(Jeremiah 31:31-34) “‘The time is coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,’ declares the Lord. ‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the Lord. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’ “

While the New Covenant extends to the Church and includes the Church in its blessings His covenant is with Israel as a nation and He has shed blood over this covenant and He can never violate it. Gentile believers in the Messiah are the “wild olive branches” grafted in among the natural branches being Jewish Messianic believers. The faithful Church, being true believers in the Messiah, replace the individual “natural branches” that do not believe in Jesus the Messiah but the Church does not replace the the main trunk of the Olive Tree representing the nation of Israel. The Church may be grafted into the Olive Tree being Israel but it is the root that spirtually sustains the tree with its branches. The Messiah our Lord Jesus is that Root of Jesse. Even though some of the natural branches have been broken off through unbelief not all the branches will be broken off! Paul the apostle tells us this in the letter to the Romans when teaching about God’s eternal purposes for Israel. He wrote, “If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.” (Romans 11:17-18)

God has not finished with Israel

Israel then is the Olive Tree and the faithful Jewish and Gentile believers in the Messiah are the branches and they draw their their spiritual sap, the Holy Spirit, from the root being the Messiah Himself. The Church owes its entire spiritual inheritance to Israel, as they are two sides of the same coin, separate, yet joined in God’s eternal purposes. Paul never taught that God had finished with Israel when he wrote, “Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” (Romans 9:3b-5) God has not rejected His ancient people, besides if He cannot be depended upon to keep His promises to Israel as a nation how can we be sure that He will keep His promises to the Church. In many ways the Church has been just as unfaithful to Him as Israel has been. Historically Israel as a nation has suffered because of its stubborn unbelief and rebellion but has the Church been any less stubborn and rebellious? God sent prophets to Israel such as Jeremiah and Isaiah and Israel rejected them and God has sent prophets to the Church such as John Wesley and William Booth yet the great evangelical and missionary movements these men started have by enlarge become liberal and social institutions. Take for example England that great bastion of Evangelical and missionary endeavour. Now it is spiritually and morally bankrupt and in danger of being overrun by the forces of Islam.

A chosen remnant

 Now God has a chosen remnant in Israel and in the Church who is destined to fulfil His will and purposes in these last days and both of them will come into their spiritual inheritance at the end of this present age as God’s gifts and calling are irrevocable!  Israel has a partial hardening of their hearts towards their Messiah our Lord Jesus. It is not a complete hardening. The Apostle Paul wrote: “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in (the Church). And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’ As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account, but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:25-29) In the end God does what He wants when He wants and in the way He wants and asks no man’s permission. In the end God will have the last say concerning His inheritance the people of Israel!

2. Who is Israel?

 The Nation of Israel are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the inheritors of the land of Israel from the Wadi of Egypt to the River Euphrates (Genesis 15:18-19). God Himself also made this promise to their forefather Abraham and said that the land would be their everlasting possession. God Himself said this; “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you: and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17: 7-8)

A ‘Palestinian’ State?

The whole idea of a ‘Palestinian’ State was the invention of man. In the Bible Israel is never called Palestine. Joseph Farah, an Arab American journalist, editor and CEO of World Net Daily said this about the term ‘Palestine.’ “The first time the name was used was in 70 A.D. when the Romans committed genocide against the Jews, smashed the Temple and declared the land of Israel would be no more. From then on, the Romans promised, it would be known as Palestine. The name was derived from the Philistines, a Goliathian people conquered by the Jews centuries earlier. It was a way for the Romans to add insult to injury. They also tried to change the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, but that had even less staying power. Palestine has never existed — before or since — as an autonomous entity. It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after World War I. The British agreed to restore at least part of the land to the Jewish people as their homeland.” (End of quote) The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines the term Palestine, “The term “Palestine” is believed to be derived from the Philistines, an Aegean people who, in the 12th Century B.C., settled along the Mediterranean coastal plain of what is now Israel and the Gaza Strip. In the second century A.D., after crushing the last Jewish revolt, the Romans first applied the name Palestine to Judea (the southern portion of what is now called the West Bank) in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the land of Israel. The Arabic word “Feasting” is derived from this Latin name.” (The Encyclopaedia Britannica ill, Micropaedia, vol.VII, “Palestine.”) Farah places the renaming of Israel to “Palestine” as happening in the First Century. The Encyclopaedia Britannica places the renaming of Israel to “Palestine” as happening in the Second Century yet the fact remains that the name “Palestine” was an invention of the Romans. The Land of Israel is never called Palestine in the Bible!

Isaac and not Ishmael

The Land of Israel has always belonged to the Jewish people. Through a covenant of blood God swore to Abraham, Isaac and to Jacob that they would possess the land and to Abraham that he would have a son. God’s covenant promises were made to the descendants of Isaac the child of promise and not to the descendants of Ishmael the father of the Arab nations. “Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” (Gen 17:17-22)  God gave the whole land of Israel to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac to be for them, “an everlasting possession.” (Genesis 17:8)

3. The name Israel was first bestowed upon Jacob.

(Genesis 32: 27-28) “The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

Israel as a Nation started with Abraham and continued through his son Isaac and then to Jacob. The name Jacob was not only his personal name but the name God also used to designate Jacob’s descendants. After Jacob had wrestled with his Messiah through the long night until the breaking of day his name was changed to Israel. Before this time Jacob had been walking by faith but was still very carnal and fleshly, however, after his encounter with the Lord his character was changed. He finally became the man that God wanted him to become but only after a long and protracted time of refining. In the Bible when the Nation of Israel were faithful to God and were spiritually right with God He called them Israel, however, when they were unfaithful to Him and carnal He called them Jacob. Never the less God first called His people Israel when He bestowed that name upon Jacob. Prophetically speaking when we see Jacob wrestling with his Messiah, all through the night until the breaking of day we have a picture of Israel wrestling through the night of Great tribulation with their Messiah and coming to a place of victory at the end of it.

A treasured possession

Israel is God’s treasured possession and He has called them to be a Holy people set apart to Him for His exclusive use and He will make them what He has called them to be. “Now if you obey Me fully and keep My covenant, then out of all nations you will be My treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” (Exodus 19: 5-6) For over 2000 years Israel as a nation have been in rebellion and disobedience and have suffered more than any other nation has suffered in history but in these last days God is going to spiritually restore them again because of His blood covenant made with Abraham and with the Lord Jesus their Messiah. Even now there is a remnant chosen by grace that will ultimately come to faith in Jesus and together with the faithful Church reign on the earth with their Messiah. (Romans 11:5) The Lord Jesus Himself will be their shepherd and together they will “rule the nations with a rod of iron.” This is the future destiny of Israel and the faithful Church, separate yet one! As the Lord Jesus Himself said, “I have other sheep (Gentile believers) which are not of this fold (Israel) they will come in (into the commonwealth of Israel) and then there will be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:16) In that day it will be the faithful remnant that will rule and reign with their Messiah over the nations that have survived the Time of Great Tribulation. Jerusalem itself will become the Capital of the world! (Isaiah 2:1-5)

4. God will never forget Israel or cast them away.

(Isaiah 49: 13-16) “Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones. But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before Me.

Because of the idolatry of the other nations in Abraham’s time God chose to create a new and unique nation, as He wanted a people through whom He could reach the other nations with His salvation. Israel was to be “a light to enlighten the Gentiles” where the will and purposes of God were concerned but they failed to do this. However, God will once again turn His grace towards them again for His purposes in the last days.  Just before the Second Coming of Jesus right at the end of this present age Israel will become centre stage in world affairs. Already they are becoming the focus of the global media. Since 1948 when they became a nation again in almost 2000 years they have never been out of the spotlight in world affairs. Of course this is no accident but foretold in God’s Word both in the Old and the New Testament. Just before Jesus comes again born again Israelites will preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the nations as they did on the Day of Pentecost.

Upon all flesh

(Joel 2:28-32) “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.”

There are many today in the Church telling us that the Church is now the New Israel of God and that He has finished with Israel as a nation but this is simply not true. This kind of thinking comes from Anti-Semitism in the Church going all the way back to Augustine and many of the Church fathers who followed him who actually taught that the Church had replaced Israel. Today in the reformed tradition especially among the Presbyterians and other reformed denominations replacement theology is part of their standard doctrines. One of the things that will divide the Church just before Jesus returns will be the place of Israel in the purposes of God. All over the globe there is an increasing rise in Anti-Semitism and it is also widespread in the Church. Many forget what God has said about Abraham and His descendants. On the Day of Pentecost it was a Jewish remnant that was filled with the Spirit to preach the gospel of the kingdom and see multitudes of Gentiles saved. This was the former rain of the Spirit. In the last days just before the Lord Jesus comes back the latter rain of the Spirit will come about. The Spirit of God will be poured out upon a faithful believing remnant in Israel and they will preach the gospel of the kingdom and through them multitudes of Gentiles will be swept into the kingdom of God. After this will come the final outpouring of wrath on a Christ hating, Christ rejecting world. While an unnumbered multitude of people will be saved in this last outpouring they will still be in the minority, a faithful remnant. During this great outpouring there will be a faithful remnant in the Church also preaching the gospel of the kingdom but this last outpouring will be centred in Israel.

A great nation

(Genesis 12:2-3) “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Now God wasn’t only saying this about Abraham but about his descendants the Israelites. The sure way to have God’s curse on you is to curse the Jewish people today. You may claim to love Jesus but if you do not love Israel then you do not love Jesus! God’s Word is clear that the Church has not replaced Israel. While it is true that every born again believer, whether Jewish or Gentile, is a true descendent of Abraham through faith it does not mean that the Israelites are no longer an ethnic race chosen by God to inherit the Land of Israel. In fact during the Millennium Jerusalem will be the capital of the world and Jesus will have His Summer Residence there and all the nations will come into the city to worship the Messiah sitting on David’s throne! So then it must be emphasised very clearly that the Church has not replaced Israel!

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