Hope for Israel
The calling of the Jews is one of the
great turning points in history. Looking at the history of the
Jewish people, it would be easy to believe that God is finished
with the people that he once called his own. However, although the
Bible teaches that the Jews are under Godís judgement for their
rejection of the Messiah, it also teaches that they will be
restored to a place of blessing. This will happen when they
acknowledge that Jesus is Lord and Saviour, the Messiah whom they
have been seeking.
By rejecting Christ, the nation of Israel
moved outside its place of blessing and under the wrath of God.
But this is only for a time. When their time of punishment is
complete, all Israel will be saved (Rom 11:26). The Jews will then
come to faith in Christ. Because God chose Israel, he will not
reject them completely, even though they have rejected him. They
will have a time of punishment, but when that comes to an end,
they will be restored to a place of blessing.
God cannot forget the promises he has made
in his covenant. The covenant actually warned that a time would
come when the nation would turn away from the Lord and be
destroyed. The scattering and exile of Israel is actually a
fulfilment of the covenant; it has not been broken. The same
covenant also promises that a time will come when they will be
restored to the land (Deut 4:25-30). The restoration of Israel is
part of God's plan.
After warning that the house of Israel
will be left desolate, Jesus said,
For I tell you, you will not see me
again until you say, "Blessed is he who comes in the name
of the Lord." (Matt 23:39).
The Jewish nation will experience terrible
tribulation, but there is still hope for the future. The time will
come when the Jews will be glad to see those who come to preach
the gospel. At they time they will see that Jesus really is the
messiah, and will acknowledge him as their lord and Saviour. Jesus
was looking forward to the time when the Jews would be converted
and restored to their place of blessing as part of the New Israel.
Even as he warned of judgement and tribulation, Jesus gave a
message of hope. Israel will be restored as a nation, not the
chosen nation, when it receives the gospel.
Godís promise to Israel is most clearly
stated in Romans 11. Paul says that although the Jews have
stumbled, they did not fall beyond recovery (v.11). He promises
that the time will come when Israel is reconciled to the Lord and
grafted back into his olive tree. So the Lord promises that all
Israel will be saved (v. 26).
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 Godís
gifts and his call are irrevocable (Rom 11:28,20).
Although the Jews have become Godís
enemies by rejecting the gospel, their election is still sure for
the sake of the patriarchs. Once God calls a people he does not
change that calling (Is 54:10, Jer 31:37).
The following diagram shows God's covenant
with Israel. To the left of the green line is the curse of the
covenant. On the right of the green line is the blessing promised
in the covenant. The blue line represents the history of Israel.
During Old Testament history (above the yellow line) Israel
drifted in and out of the place of blessing. During the times of
Moses, David and Josiah, Israel moved into the place of blessing.
At other times, they moved over the green line into disobedience
and the curse. God has always dealt with Israel as a nation. It
was brought out of Egypt and established in the promised land as a
whole nation. In the ups and downs of their later history God
treated them as one, so the whole nation shared in both blessings
The ministry of Jesus is represented by
the yellow line. Israel, as a nation, rejected Jesus and passed to
the left under the curse of the law (Matthew 23:37-39). Jesus
filled the terms of the covenant on behalf of all those who
believe in him. So the church (red arrow) receives the blessing of
the covenant. (The new covenant is not really new, but is a
fulfilment of the old covenant through the death and resurrection
of Jesus.) As the church grows, the red arrow will become much
At the present, the nation of Israel is
still on the left of the green line, under the curse. Although the
nation of Israel has been restored, its restoration as achieved
"by the sword" (Ezekiel 38:8). It was not by the direct
hand of God, but by military and political action. The restored
nation is still being trampled by the Gentiles. However, God has
not forgotten Israel. The time will comes when Israel will be
restored to blessing.
When the Fulfilment of Israel comes, the
vast majority of Israel will come to believe in Jesus. Through
believing in Jesus, they will move back over the green line into
the place of blessing. This is what Paul meant by being grafted
back into the olive tree (Romans 11:22-24). The church and Israel
will become one, in Jesus.
Blessing to the World
God has always dealt with Israel as a
nation, so salvation will come to it as a nation. God will deal
with the entire nation at the same time. Each individual will have
to come to faith of course, but God will work things so that this
happens to the whole nation at the same time. The leaders of that
nation will be touched by the Spirit. Just as the religious and
political leaders rejected Jesus (representing their people), the
religious and political leaders of Israel will believe and serve
When this happens, Israel will not be
special among the nations. God no longer has a special nation.
Israel will only receive its blessing as part of the church. This
happens as the Jewish people come to believe in Jesus, and are
born again into the kingdom of God. Through faith in Jesus they
will become part of the New Israel. Natural Israel is restored to
a place of blessing by becoming part of the New Israel. The
distinction between Jew and Gentile will then be gone forever.
This explains why the conversion of the
Jews brings blessing to the world. Without the Jews the church
cannot be complete. Without natural Israel, New Israel is lacking
an important part. When natural Israel is joined with new Israel,
there will be a true fulfilment of God's plans. This complete New
Israel will bring great blessing to the world.
Once the fullness of the Jewís come in,
Godís team will be complete. Satan will have lost his power to
punish Israel, so
a time of great victory for the church will follow. Daniel
7:18,22,27 describes a period when the saints possess the Kingdom.
The sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under the
whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the
Most High. This is a picture of people of God (including Israel)
being given authority to establish his Kingdom. The Kingdom
advances rapidly by the proclamation of the word of God in the
power of the Holy Spirit. (Look here for a full description of the
Kingdom of God.)
The Role of the Spirit
The Jews are converted by an outpouring of
the Spirit and the preaching of a prophetic church. This is the
only way to be saved. Zechariah promised that God would pour out
his Spirit on Israel.
And I will pour out on the house of
David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and
supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced,
and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child,
and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son
This is the moment of Israelís
conversion. The Spirit of the Lord will move in the hearts of al
Israel. It will be a Spirit of supplication to cause them to call
on the name of the Lord. The Spirit of grace will give them faith
to receive the salvation that comes through grace.
At the same time, the Holy Spirit will
open the eyes of their hearts, so that they can see Jesus. They
will stop looking for a warlike Messiah and realise that Jesus who
died on the cross and "who was pieced" by a spear,
really is their Messiah. This realisation will produce a great
flood of repentance. When they realise that Jesus reigns at the
right hand of God and that they have been saved by the prayers in
his name, the whole land will be filled with tears. As they come
to realise what Jesus has done, they will all weep with sadness
and joy (Zech 12:11-14). There will also be repentance for the
treatment of Israel.
Some Christians believe that the Jews will
be converted when Jesus returns to Jerusalem. This is not true.
Seeing is not believing. The Jews saw Jesus for three years, when
he exercised his ministry on earth, but they did not believe. The
reason is that their hearts were hard. Nothing has changed. Israelís
problem is still hardness of heart (Rom 10). They are spiritually
blind to the truth. The only solution to spiritual blindness is
the work of the Holy Spirit.
Preachers and Prophets
The church will co-operate with the Holy
Spirit in his work in Israel. The Holy Spirit can change hearts, but
he needs Christians to preach the gospel to Israel. This is why God
has given so many Christians such a great love for Israel and her
people. He is calling and preparing people to take the gospel
to Israel. This happens during a time of terrible tumult in
Israel, so these people will need to be dedicated and tough.
As a gateway for the preaching of the gospel in Israel, Christians
should start blessing the people of Israel now. One way of doing
this is to share our material blessings. Paul said,
For if the Gentiles have shared in the
Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with
them their material blessings. Rom 15:27
Christians must demonstrate their love for
the people of Israel to earn the right to speak to them. (We do not
bless them if we supply them with military weapons, as this would
encourage them to trust in the god of war).
Those who preach the gospel will be
accompanied by prophets, who will pronounce Godís judgements
against evil nations and announce his plan as it is fulfilled. The
prophets and intercessors may need to declare miracles of
deliverance or rescue. When these prayers are answered and the
prophecies are fulfilled, the people of Israel will bless the
preachers and prophets, fulfilling Jesus promise.
You will not see me again until you say,
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."
The prophets will speak to the Jewish people
and prepare them to receive salvation in the name of Jesus. They
will declare that Israelís judgement is complete. Part of their
message is revealed in the scriptures.
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD's hand
double for all her sins.
Timing will be critical. This message must
not be declared until God decides that the time is right. A message
of peace spoken to soon will result in disappointment.
Christians must be careful what they say to
Israel. Some are saying that the time of the suffering has come to
an end and that God will keep Israel safe. They are motivated by
are giving a false hope. Hope that is based on wishful thinking and
not Godís word is bound to fail. When the Israel suffers military
defeat in the future, as the Bible surely teaches, the Jewish people
will be disillusioned with the words of these Christians. This will
make them less likely to listen when Christians share the gospel.
Speaking words of comfort and blessing, that God has not spoken,
weakens the power of God's word, even if it is motivated by love.
Christians must bless Israel, but they must not speak unless the
Lord has spoken. To do so is to lose our prophetic voice.
The Return in Faith
One of the major themes of the Old
Testament prophecies is the return of the Jews to Israel. At the
time of the destruction of Jerusalem they were scattered among the
nations. There has been a partial return during the present
century, but it has not been a return in faith that the prophecies
describe. The real return takes place after the Jews who are in
Jerusalem now are converted to faith in Jesus. Their are numerous
passages that speak of the time (Isaiah 4:2-6; 25:6-11; 33:13-24;
35:1-10; 61:4-9; 62:10-12; 66:20; Jeremiah 12:15; 33:10-13;
Ezekiel 20:41; 37:12,21; Joel 3:18-20; Amos 9:9-15; Obadiah 19,20;
Micah 2:12; Zechariah 10:6-12).
The land of Israel will be restored. The
conversion of the Israeli people will lift the curse from their
land, which has caused it to be so desolate. The Lord will bless
the land and restore it to its former prosperity.
He will also send you rain for the
seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the
land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will
graze in broad meadows. The oxen and donkeys that work the
soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel
The Lord will send abundant rain. Food
will be so plentiful that even the animals will have plenty to
eat. Isaiah also says that when the Lord pours out the Holy Spirit
on the people of Israel, even the deserts will become fertile and
the fertile ground will be come luxuriant (Is 32:15).
This will be followed by a great migration
of people back to the land of Israel. It is described in Ezekiel
I will multiply the number of people
upon you, even the whole house of Israel. The towns will be
inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will increase
the number of men and animals upon you, and they will be
fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as
in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then
you will know that I am the LORD.
Jeremiah prophesied that the Lord would
gather back all the remnant of the flock from all the countries
where they have been scattered (23:3). Isaiah tells how the people
of the nations among which they have been scattered will bring the
people back to their land (Is 49:22-26; 60:9). He says that God
will bring his people back to live in their land (Is 11:11-16).
The prophet Micah says that when the people who live in Israel
come to a new birth, the rest of their brothers will return to
join with hem. The land will be desolate until the time when this
takes place (Mic 3:4). This migration back to Israel will bring
great glory to the Lord.
Those who return to Israel at this time
will have come to faith in Jesus. The Lord said through Ezekiel,
For I will take you out of the
nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring
you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on
you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your
impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new
heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your
heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put
my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be
careful to keep my laws (Ezek 36:24-27).
Those who return to Israel will come to
faith, either before they return, or while they are returning.
Their sins will be washed away and they will be born again of the
Spirit. They will then follow Jesus with all their hearths (Is
We should not assume that all descendants
of Israel will return to the land of Israel, as this may not be
possible. For Some, their return will be a return to faith.
Through faith in Jesus Christ they will become members of the
church, which is the New Israel. Their return will be to the
After this great migration takes place the
land will restored to even greater blessing. Ezekiel said that
The desolate land will be cultivated
instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through
it. They will say, "This land that was laid waste has
become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in
ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited
Such blessing will come on the land that
it will become like the Garden of Eden. The land of Israel will be
full of blessing and the people will know the Lord.