Israel

 
We should remember that Israel was the new name given to Jacob when he wrestled with the angel in Genesis 32.22-32   This new name means,
“He struggles with God”.
 
This is the wisdom of God, that in a world that is desperately trying to deny the existence of God, there is a land that bears this name, and which is regularly on every major news outlet in the world.
 
Yet, Israel is surrounded with enemies, about 350 million of them, many of whom are determined to see Israel disappear from the map of the Middle East.  But God made a promise to Abraham, recorded in Genesis 12.7  “To your offspring will I give this land”.
And all the world is watching while, despite many attempts to make it otherwise, Israel still has this land.
We must also consider that these enemies are also offspring from Abraham.  Many of them are the descendants of Ishmael, the son that Abraham had by Hagar, the maidservant of Sarah.  They became a great nation as a result of Abraham petitioning God.  In Genesis 21.13  God said…
“I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also because he is your offspring.”
However, even before Ishmael was born, an angel gave his mother Hagar, a prophecy concerning her son…   Genesis 16.12
“He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”
The missiles that have been falling on the north of Israel are a recent reminder that this prophecy is still being fulfilled.
 
Now the descendants of both Isaac and Ishmael need to be saved – meaning to receive Jesus Christ as Saviour and Messiah.  Romans 10.1-4   Paul wrote…
“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”
Yet Israel is far from this.  You will be attacked by orthodox Jews if you evangelise on the streets, and ignored by the majority who could be described as secular – having no deep appreciation of God.  So how will God bring His chosen people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God?
 
The Bible says that the nations will gather against Jerusalem in the end, before the Lord Jesus returns.  This is in Zechariah 14.2
“I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it”
Then the next part of the verse makes hard reading for those of us who are supporting Israel.  However,  we must realise that Israel too has to learn that “it is not by might nor by power but by the Spirit of God”.  Israel has the best intelligence of any nation in the world, and possibly the next best airforce after the United States, but such is the hatred and ferocity of the enemy, that this power will not be enough, and God Himself will see to this. So Israel will at last confess together as a people that they can only succeed with the help of the God of Israel.  Let’s read the rest of v2 “
…the city (Jerusalem) will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped.  Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.”
V3  “Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle.”
Then our Lord Jesus will return to this earth.
V4 “On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, ….”
 
How then should we pray for Israel?  Praying on the basis of God’s word is always wise.  God wants to show them mercy as He has done to us Gentiles.  Many church leaders don’t like what the Bible says about this.  Romans 11.25
“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.
v26  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
The deliverer will come from Zion;
He will turn godlessness away from Jacob.”
 
Finally, what does the Bible say about Israel’s enemies in the end.  Since He has made a promise to Abraham concerning his son Ishmael, He will keep it, and the outcome is shown inIsaiah 19.22
“The Lord will strike Egypt with a plague; He will strike them and heal them.  They will turn to the Lord, and He will respond to their pleas and heal them.
v23  In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria (Syria, Iraq and Iran).  The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria.  The Egyptians  and Assyrians will worship together. 
v24  In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth.
This accounts for the fact that the Lord has got His workers spreading the gospel in Israel as well as in Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank, and in Syria.  We are living in a very exciting time and yet also tragic, because until these nations see Jesus for Who He is, they will continue to fight to remove Israel, with resulting loss of life on both sides, and terrible suffering.  DSC01771 (Small)
This banner hangs on our diningroom wall.  It shows the graft bandages on each branch where the Gentiles have been grafted into the main Jewish stock as the Apostle Paul describes in Romans 11.17    
     “…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,…”
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We always enjoy inviting guests to our Passover meal when we go through this Jewish feast with Christ.  The different things that the Jews have had as part of this meal for many generations, ever since the days of the Exodus, all point to our Lord Jesus Christ.