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Christian Biblical Studies
ISRAEL – THE NECESSARY COUNTRY
Scripture references are to the King James (Authorised) Bible
Q. Why is Israel important to the world?
A. The Jews were chosen by God and constituted as a nation in ancient times. To them alone He gave the oracles of His Word, expressed in the Law of Moses, with its ancillary instructions and ceremonies (with typical significance). Over their long history, Biblical 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 final collapse of their nationhood, the Jewish people were dispersed around the world. This was at once a curse and a blessing. For though reviled and persecuted their being scattered prevented them from being completely annihilated.
Nor did God abandon them in their lonely, bitter exile. They were still the covenant people of God. Not that they were intrinsically holy. But laying rightful claim to the Abrahamic promise and loved by God for the sake of their ancient fathers, they represented the faithfulness and assurance of God. In their devotion to the study and analysis of the Tanakh (Moses, Prophets, Writings) and their maintaining their ‘Jewishness’ (variously modified according to the culture in which they resided), they rested in the sanctuary of God – an asylum which, for all its troubles, offered comfort and assurance to those who hung on to their faith. This condition of exile lasted for most of the Gospel Age, a period which in the timescale of God’s work and the eventual outcome of the salvation process, is but a little while.
At the time appointed the promise of return was fulfilled and the Jews were brought back, by complicated means, to their ancient land. This aliyah was not accomplished in a clean and tidy fashion. Modern Israel emerged through a mist of unspeakable suffering and abominable mistreatment. Such is the travail of this world through which God works His sovereign will. If God may be regarded as having humility it is in this: that He is prepared to be defamed in order that His will to bless all may be eventually fulfilled. Such a ‘hard saying’ has turned away many from belief in God, including many Jews, for whom faith evaporated in the smoke of Hitler’s gas ovens.
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 picked instead. The reversal of fortune is temporary, for a comparatively little while. For in due time Israel would be restored and exalted, and their national conversion and 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 for all (Rom. 11:7-12, 15; comments and emphasis added):
7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election [a relative few Jews, but more Gentiles] hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.
8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:
10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
. . .
15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving [back] of them be, but life from the dead?