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THE REDEMPTION AND RISE OF ISRAEL
All Scripture references are to the NIV-UK
THE JEWS WERE hand-picked by God and incorporated as a nation in ancient times. To them alone He committed the oracles of His Word, expressed in the Law of Moses, with its ancillary instructions and ceremonies. Over their long history Israel was varyingly warm and indifferent in their covenant relationship with Jehovah. At length, following their national rejection of Christ as their Messiah and the collapse of their nationhood, the Jewish people were dispersed around the world. This was at once for them a curse and a blessing. For though reviled and persecuted their Diaspora prevented them from being completely annihilated. In the fulness of time, under Jehovah’s guiding providences, they were cajoled back to their homeland. This aliyah was not accomplished in a clean and tidy fashion; the miracle of modern Israel emerged in 1948 through clouds of unspeakable suffering.
Now sandwiched in a geographical area within a kaleidoscope of implacable foes, Israel’s instinct for survival is uppermost. Her rocky relationships with the surrounding nations leads to frightful tensions, which periodically erupt in countermeasures and harsh retaliatory treatment against those viewed as hostile and close at hand, such as the Palestinians. These are difficult times in which to be a friend of Israel.
Pauline theology has the ultimate redemption of Israel at its core. It is not, he says, merely that the Jews were cast off and the elect (the Christians) were selected instead. The reversal of fortune would be temporary. In due time Israel would be restored and exalted, and their promotion as the chief nation of the world both precede and initiate the resurrection from death of all mankind, thus being the conduit of blessing (Rom. 11:7-12, 15). In the meantime, they would be blinded to the salvation found in Christ, bound in a ‘spirit of stupor’ until Christ returns to ‘turn godlessness away’ from them (vs. 8, 26).
Although prophecies outline the events yet to occur relative to Israel, no one knows how far in the future this will come to pass. Based on current trends, it is reasonable to expect that before then a separate state will be created by the United Nations for the Palestinians, on Israel’s doorstep. The announcement by President Trump on Dec. 6, 2017 that the U.S. now officially ‘recognises’ Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has drawn criticism from most countries. However, America’s tardy acknowledgement of Jerusalem may accelerate, rather than derail, the process leading to Palestinian statehood. At some point thereafter, through various winding routes of diplomacy, egged on by sporadic intifada in the Palestinian territories, we may see Israel largely isolated by the international community and including an impatient, beleaguered U.S. In time, hostile nations will mount a concerted attack on the Jewish state, triggering intervention by God on her behalf (Zech. 14:1-3):
1 A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls.2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city 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. 3 Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle.
Following the establishment of Christ’s kingdom on earth, Israel will be exalted as the chief nation (‘mountain’) on earth, its capital – Jerusalem (Isa. 2:2, 3):
2 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3 Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.