Growing up as a Jewish boy in the United States, my earliest knowledge of Israel was that the Jewish people was synonymous with the twelve tribes of Israel, and that the State of Israel – in part of the promised land to Israel – was the homeland for the Jewish people, even after so many years had passed. I was not a religious Jew, but knew that my identity was connected with my being Jewish, and Israel being important to us as a people. I also believed that if there was a God, then He was the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; He was the Creator of the heavens and the Earth – the Universe — in six days. In my early 20’s, I visited Israel twice: once as a tourist; the other time as a volunteer on a kibbutz. On both occasions, I knew that Israel was important to me, but not home. It only became home once I repented from my unbelief, and believed that Jesus is all that He truly is! I was born-again for sure!
Gen 32:24-28 (25-29 Heb) “And Jacob was left alone. And a Man wrestled there with him until the breaking of the day. (25) And when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the hollow of his thigh. And the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with Him. (26) And He said, Let Me go, for the day breaks. And he said, I will not let You go except You bless me. (27) And He said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob. (28) And He said, Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for like a prince you have power with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
It is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of YHVH that His will and purposes are accomplished. Jacob needed to learn this. So it must be with each of us, and with the nation as a whole. In his personal encounter and wrestling with the “Man”, he came out hampered but blessed! This is the conversion of Jacob to becoming Israel. It is the grace of God that allows us to overcome, and He alone is glorified! He qualifies us to rule with Him, but the Lord is Sovereign! This is something we all must go through and learn in our conversion from our old man to becoming conformed to the image of the Son of God. Then, Jacob – as Israel – could face his estranged brother and be reconciled to God to go on to what God had called him for.
YEHOVAH God, the triune God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit –has forever associated His name with being the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. (Mt 22:31-32) He is the God of Israel: the person and the people and the land. He is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ex 3:13-15 And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the sons of Israel, and shall say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they shall say to me, What is His name? What shall I say to them? (14) And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM. And He said, So you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you. (15) And God said to Moses again, You shall say this to the children of Israel, Yehovah, God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial from generation to generation.
Dt 7:6-10 For you are a holy people to Yehovah your God. Yehovah your God has chosen you to be a special people to Himself above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
(7) Yehovah did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people, for you were the fewest of all people. (8) But because Yehovah loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn to your fathers, Yehovah has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you out of the house of slaves, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (9) Therefore, know that Yehovah your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations. (10) And He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slow to repay him who hates Him. He will repay him to his face.
Gen 28:10-15 And Jacob went out from Beer Sheva, and went toward Haran. (11) And he came on a certain place, and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took of the stones of that place, and placed them at his head. And he lay down in that place to sleep. (12) And he dreamed. And behold! A ladder was set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to Heaven! And behold! The angels of God were ascending and descending on it! (13) And behold! Jehovah stood above it, and said, I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac! The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your seed. (14) And your seed shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. And in you and in your Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (15) And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you in every place where you go, and will bring you again into this land. For I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken of to you.
Mt 2:19-21 But Herod having died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, (20) saying, Arise, and take the child and His mother. And go into the land of Israel. For the ones who sought the child’s life are dead. (21) And he arose and took the child and His mother and came into the land of Israel.
Ezek 37:11-12 “And He said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, Our bones are dried and our hope is lost; we are cut off by ourselves. (12) Therefore prophesy and say to them, So says the Lord Yehovah: Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, and will bring you into the land of Israel.”
YHVH God promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob and his descendants the Land of Canaan for an everlasting possession. YHVH promised to Jacob that He would not leave him until He had accomplished what He said. When the baby Jesus came back out of Egypt with His parents, the Holy Spirit had Matthew write that the family came back to the Land of Israel, whatever other names might have been used by the Romans. Yeshua was an Israeli Jew, whose coming was first of all in keeping God’s covenant promises to His people in the flesh. The LORD gave the prophet Ezekiel to see into the distant future — to our day – whereby God is restoring His wayward people back to the promised land, which He specifically calls it the Land of Israel.
Mal 3:6 For I am Yehovah, I change not. Because of this you children of Jacob are not destroyed.
How does God demonstrate this?
Jer 31:31-37 (30-36 Heb) Behold, the days come, says Yehovah, that I will cut a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, (32) not according to the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which covenant of Mine they broke, although I was a husband to them, says Yehovah; (33) but this shall be the covenant that I will cut with the house of Israel: After those days, says Yehovah, I will put My Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (34) And they shall no more teach each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know Yehovah; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Yehovah. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more.
(35) So says Yehovah, who gives the sun for a light by day and the laws of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who divides the sea when its waves roar; Yehovah of Hosts is His name; (36) if those ordinances depart from Me, says Yehovah, the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever. (37) So says Yehovah, If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the Earth below can be searched out, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says Yehovah.
Rom 11:25-32 “For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brethren, lest you should be wise within yourselves; that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the nations has comes in. (26) And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, “There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. (27) For this is My covenant with them, when I have taken away their sins.” (28) Indeed as regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes. But as regards the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. (29) For the free gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (30) For as you also then disbelieved God, but now have been shown mercy through their disbelief, (31) even so these also have not believed now, so that through your mercy they may also obtain mercy. (32) For God has shut up all in unbelief, so that He might show mercy to all.”
Israel’s salvation as a nation gives significance and hope to other nations. It gives hope to this Earth and world, and their hope lies in the same hope which God gave to Israel, and to believers in Jesus: the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ and the restoration of YHVH God’s kingdom over His entire universe. The resurrection of Jesus assures the promises made to the fathers [of Israel], and brings glory to God from the mouth of Gentiles for what He does for His people. (Rom 15:4-13)
Ps 2:6-8 Yea, I have set My king on My holy hill, on Zion. (7) I will declare the decree of Yehovah. He has said to Me, You are My Son; today I have begotten You. (8) Ask of Me, and I shall give the nations for Your inheritance; and the uttermost parts of the Earth for Your possession.
Zec 14:16-19 “And it shall be, everyone who is left of all the nations which came up against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Yehovah of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. (17) And it shall be, whoever will not come up from all the families of the Earth to Jerusalem to worship the King, Yehovah of Hosts, even on them shall be no rain. (18) And if the family of Egypt does not go up, nor come in, they shall have no rain, but the plague with which Yehovah shall strike the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. (19) This shall be Egypt’s offense, and the offense of all the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”
God created Jacob, and formed Israel (Is 43:1), a people whose mothers could not naturally give birth, but required God’s intervention. The Church, the Body of Messiah, is a new creation of individuals out from every nation, who are redeemed by the blood of the Messiah. Therefore, Israel is not the Church, nor is the Church Israel; but they are both related to the same one true living God!
Israel is a person, a people, a land; the covenant of YHVH is with the children of Israel for the land – for those descendants of Jacob who turn from ungodliness — but the inheritance is to be shared also with strangers – with those who are not related in the flesh to the tribes of Jacob. (Dt 5:12-15; Ezek 47:21-23)
–Israel as a NATION gives significance and hope to all other nations, including the Arabic nations. (Is 19:23-25)
–In Adam all have sinned, yet God’s plan of redemption to save human beings is available to all through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
–Israel the nation is made up of many children of Adam and Eve, and has sinned against God, just as Adam and Eve did. Europe has sinned; Sweden has sinned; the U.S. has sinned. The same God, who changes not, has the same plan of salvation to save a nation as He does for individuals: by grace, through genuine repentance and faith.
–Not every Jew/Israeli, nor every Arab or German or Congolese or American will be saved.
–Each nation has its own particular calling and destiny in God’s purposes.
—Israel is unique amongst the nations even as Yeshua/Jesus is among the sons of Adam or the sons of God. (Ex 4:22; Dt 7:6; Am 3:2; Zech 2:8; Mt 3:16-17; Heb 1)
–Politically speaking, Israel has a King in waiting who is presently rejected and despised, like David was during King Saul’s reign.
—Identity: God has given a particular identity to a people whom He has created for His glory. Each of us has an identity in Christ with God our Father, and an everlasting destiny and inheritance connected with God’s unbreakable promises in the new and better covenant cut with the blood of the Son of God.
—Calling: God keeps His Word, His promises, His covenants: we are called to be witnesses of God and of His truth, and we are to be true to our word as children of God our Father.
—Vision and Mission Purpose: The whole Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of YHVH; there is a purpose to be fulfilled for THIS world, THIS creation; hope for nations because Israel as a nation will be saved: evangelize, and look forward to the coming again of the Lord!
—Discipleship and Conformity to the image of God’s Son: Man was created in the image of God according to His likeness in order to rule with Him over God’s creation (Gen 1:26; Ps 8); to be full-filled during the Millennial Kingdom, when the saints who have part in the First Resurrection will rule and reign with Christ as a kingdom of priests (Dan 7:27; Rev 2:25-29; 3:21; 20:6): practice now to be faithful and trustworthy in what we do, with a heart for God and His interests; Israel will also fulfill her calling and mission when she returns to YHVH her God and cleansed from all her unfaithfulness against Him, and against Yeshua/Jesus, when she finally becomes the Israel of God (Gal 6:14-16)
—Worship: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who first gave to Him, and it will be repaid to him? (36) For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things; to Him be glory forever! Amen.” (Rom 11:33-36)
–for the sanctity of the name of the one true God! (Ezek 36:16-38; Mt 6:9-10)
–that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls (Rom 9:9-11): God has chosen a person, a people, and a land to glorify His holy name among all creation! (Ps 46:10; 117; Neh 9:6; Rev 5:13)
“ Great and marvelous are your works, LORD God of Hosts!
Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
Who shall not fear You, O YHVH, and glorify Your Name?
For You alone are holy!
For all nations shall come and worship before You,
For Your judgments have been manifested!” (Rev 15:3-4)
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, April 25, 2021, and reposted with permission.