Focus on Israel: Lessons from the Mount of Olives

Visiting Israel is a life-changing experience, no matter how many times a person goes there.  Beyond the Biblical relevance so easily seen throughout the land, Israel’s geopolitical history is also on display.  Is it any wonder Scripture identifies Jerusalem as the center of the world? (Ezekiel 5:5, Ezekiel 38:12)  Of course, Israel also holds the key to Bible prophecy as we look to the future.

On our recently completed Israel tour, our theme was God’s faithfulness, so teaching focused on past, present and future evidence of God’s faithfulness to Israel, and His guarantee of faithfulness to us as well. Truths imprinted on our hearts and minds while in Israel live on and will forever remain very vivid.  Through occasional posts we will call “Focus on Israel,” perhaps your heart and mind will become imprinted as well.

What better time and place to begin our focus than Palm Sunday on the Mount of Olives!  Studying the Biblical narrative of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on the original Palm Sunday becomes vivid in one’s mind when standing on the Mount of Olives.

Scripture tells us that a great multitude came to the feast of Passover and heard that Jesus was coming, so they waved palm fronds, welcoming Jesus with shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (John 12:12-15) as He crossed from the Mount of Olives, through the Kidron Valley and entered the Eastern Gate.

Projecting to the future, those same words were prophetically spoken again by Jesus Himself a few days later. Though those Jesus came to save rejoiced at His entry on that fateful Palm Sunday, they missed the very purpose for which He came.  Thus, overlooking Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, Jesus lamented, then uttered that all-important prophecy:

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”

~Matthew 23:37-39

Studying God’s Word while sitting on the Mount of Olives, gazing across the Kidron Valley toward the Holy City, our tour group felt a degree of impact of Jesus’ lament.  Knowing how dead the idea of Jesus as Messiah is in Israel, we imagined Jesus’ heart-felt love for His people as He yearned to gather them under His wing.  But the Jewish people (in general) are just as unwilling to be gathered under the wing of the Messiah today as they were 2,000 years ago.  Indeed, collectively they will not see Him again until they invite Him back with the words, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

In the past, Jesus was faithful to come to His people and offer salvation.  In the present, He remains faithfully available to all who will call upon His name as Messiah, and in the future He will be faithful to fulfill Bible prophecy when, one day, Romans 11:26 says all Israel will be saved.

In light of Bible prophecy, one other Biblical truth struck our hearts and minds as we visited the Mount of Olives.  Zechariah 14:4 promises that when Jesus physically returns to earth (at the end of the tribulation), it will be at that very place!  His feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives, splitting it in two and opening up the Eastern Gate where He will enter once more.

Will that be the day He once again hears, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord?” 

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