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What Does Israel Mean to Me as a Christian?

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November 11th, 2019
  

What does Israel mean to you as a Christian?

As we follow Jesus, we center ourselves on loving God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And then, on loving our neighbor as ourselves.These two foundational life commandments are founded on the reality that we are grafted into the great promise of salvation. And it was made first to the people of Israel (Romans 11).

How then does the calling on Israel and the Jewish people relate to you following Jesus in such a way as a Christian? Is it important? And how do you make yourself a part of it? Here are some central foundational truths to hold onto as you walk in your role as a Christian. After all, we are part of God’s great plan for Israel and the world.

group of people worshipping in caesarea

What’s the Big Deal about Israel?

Israel. So much ink has been spilled in regards to this tiny nation. Most of us have heard about Israel in the news, or learned about her history in our churches. Or maybe we wrestled with the politics surrounding the modern state.

For such a small country, Israel seems to be everywhere. Which begs the question: What’s the big deal?

Let’s start with the short and direct answer: God’s heart—that’s the big deal! Now, what do I mean by that?

When God made His eternal covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12, He forever linked His reputation to the patriarch’s descendants, the Jewish people. Isaiah prophesied that the nations would know that the LORD is God alone through His witnesses — the people of Israel (Isa. 49:10).

In essence, Israel is the Lord’s calling card to the world, and proof that He exists.

“I will bless those who bless Israel” – God

While seemingly the most basic, this quote from Genesis 12 is the first time the Bible references the concept of blessing Israel. In fact, this blessing connects others to the Father of the Jewish people.Meaning, when the calling on the seed of Abraham came forth, God also included the promise of a blessing for those who bless them!

“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.”Genesis 12:2-3

God folds into His promise for Abraham the blessing of all people of the earth. Therefore, by committing to bless Israel as a nation, as a people, you become part of the promise God made to Abraham.

lady being baptized in the jordan river

Israel and God’s Faithfulness to You and Me

Do you ever worry that God will reject you because of your sin? Has a major failure made you think that surely God no longer has a plan for your life?

Then consider this. You trust that He will make His promises come to pass. But if you ever had any doubt, a real tangible example of God’s faithfulness in fulfilling what He promised is ISRAEL.

God’s calling upon them is irrevocable, regardless of their actions. His faithfulness to His people is contingent on His character, not on their own. His promises are secure regardless of their failures. And, after 2,000 years of exile, He has placed them back in the land He promised them.

If God is faithful to Israel, He will be faithful to you. And if He can save them, He can save you. But most of all, if His love for them is unconditional, then so is His love for you!

His Faithfulness Proven

Gathering Israel from the four corners of the earth is a beautiful reminder that God is faithful. But also, that He controls the timeline. The establishment of the state only happened less than a couple generations ago – in 1948.If you needed to prove that God is real today, you can point to one of the greatest fulfillments of numerous biblical prophesies:

“…and I will bring my people Israel back from exile. They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine, they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God.” –  Amos 9:14-16

Even in their unbelief, God gathered Israel back to their land after being scattered for 2000 years. If He can be faithful to the people of Israel, He can be faithful to you!

group of people worshipping on a boat on sea of galilee

Riches today and even greater riches to come!

“Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!” (Romans 11:12)

Their transgressions and failure was not accepting their Messiah and not turning to God in righteousness, just as prophesied by Isaiah (Isaiah 29; 53).And even in that, the nations have received riches – meaning salvation and life abundantly. Imagine then, what will their fulfillment mean – greater riches for the world!

“For if their rejection is reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” Romans 11: 15

As a committed follower of Jesus, you have received and will continue to receive riches. It is through God’s promise for the Jewish people and their coming salvation. The Jewish people are being restored and begin recognizing their Messiah (it’s already happening!).Meanwhile, we will come into even greater abundance and see life from the dead. And, as discussed in Romans, this awakening happens amongst His covenant people (the Jews) through YOU! “Salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.”  (Romans 11:11)

people watching the sunrise at masada

The Missing Piece

I confess that I did not begin to understand Israel’s significance until about six years ago. I loved the Lord and enjoyed serving at my church. But only noticed a missing piece when I started exploring God’s intimate relationship with the Jewish people.

Once I applied this lens to my Scripture reading, God began revealing treasures that were hidden in broad daylight. There are so many things to discover about the Lord through His people Israel. 

His appointed times and feasts creatively reveal the Messiahship of Jesus. The way each feast links to a moment in Yeshua’s life and ministry causes one to stand amazed.

The reality that the Jewish people have safe-guarded the Hebrew Scriptures throughout millennia is just shy of heroic. There were entire sects of Jewish people (such as the Essenes) who were dedicated to writing and preserving the scrolls through extremely meticulous work as scribes.

They would throw away hours of work if they made one tiny error in transcription on one page. They set apart their lives to preserve the Scriptures exactly as it had been given to them. It convicted me and helped me to not take the Word of God for granted.

So, What Does Israel Mean to Me?

Beyond the personal blessing that comes with understanding and loving Israel, there’s also a promised revival. And for that to happen, Israel is the key.

Jesus said He would not return until His people, Israel, welcome Him with words: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD” (Mt. 23:39).

The Lord has entrusted the Gentiles with a unique part to play in this grand scheme: to make Israel (the Jews) jealous. Paul explains that though Israel stumbled, they have not permanently fallen.

“Heaven forbid! Quite the contrary, it is by means of their stumbling that the deliverance has come to the Gentiles, in order to provoke them to jealousy” Rom. 11:11

Caring about Israel is an integral part of every believer’s calling. God has empowered us to turn the ‘key’ to unlock worldwide revival by loving the Jewish people and Israel, and praying for them to embrace their Messiah.

Reflection:

1. Read and meditate on Genesis 12 and receive God’s blessing as one who blesses Israel and a recipient of His promises.

2. Have you seen God be faithful in your own life? When?

3. We’ve all experienced disappointment and unfulfilled expectations even when we’ve trusted God. Are you currently wrestling with promises that need fulfillment? Remember His faithfulness by acknowledging his fulfilled promises to a people who rejected Him. And hold onto it as a tangible example of God’s huge love for humanity, and His commitment to do what He says He’ll do.

4. Read Romans 11 anew and this time with a perspective of understanding and receiving the promise of greater riches (life abundance, blessing on you and your household). Remember it as you support Israel first in the heart and then through prayer and any God inspired action.

5. Pray for the awakening of the Jewish people both in Israel and around the world (as often as you can!).

6. Ask God for a revelation of how you can be a watchman on the wall for Jerusalem and Israel as expressed through Isaiah.

Do you want to learn more about Israel and why it is important to you? Here are more great articles you can read:

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

FIRM is a global fellowship of Biblically-grounded believers committed to cultivating Messiah-centered relationships that bless the inhabitants of Israel—Jews, Arabs, and others—and the Jewish community around the world.
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