Why DOES Israel Matter?

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Pull up a chair and hang out for a bit.  This week we are concluding our study, Why Israel Matters and we have covered lots of ground.  So, we’re pulling it all together this week.

Early in the study we discussed some reasons Israel matters.  Do you remember some of those reasons?  Let’s jog the memory.  Israel matters in many ways, including:

  • Socially.  The desire of Israelis to make the world a better place (tikkun olam) is demonstrated in the way they treat other nations.  Often first on scene for natural disasters around the world, a leader in helping third world nations provide food and water for their citizens and sending aid into places like Syria are common for the Jewish state.
  • Geopolitically.  Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East, guaranteeing freedoms not possible in other lands in the region.  She is a city on a hill, shining brightly in a dark area.
  • Intellectually.  The “Innovation Nation” is a world leader in medical, agricultural and technological advancements.  The genius of that tiny country impacts the entire world.
  • Militarily.  The IDF (Israel Defense Force) is one of the world’s elite militaries.  Couple their innovation and technological prowess with the commitment of young men and women who clearly understand what they are fighting for and you have the most dominate military in the region.

We’ve discussed those and other reasons why Israel matters.  However, perhaps the most significant reason is because Israel was chosen by God to carry out a unique role in history.  In Genesis 12:3, God promises to bless Abraham and make him and his descendants a great nation.  Beyond that, He vowed that all the people of the earth will be blessed through Abraham.  That blessing is salvation, the greatest blessing ever conceived!

Our Father in heaven knew what it would take to implement that blessing, and it came in the form of a triumvirate of covenants, all of which must be in play in order to obtain salvation:

  • Abrahamic Covenant: the covenant of decision.  God decided before the foundations of the earth that He would devise a way that would allow every person to obtain the blessing of salvation.
  • Mosaic Covenant: the covenant of instruction.  Because the world failed (and still does) to see the need for salvation, God gave the law to Moses.  It’s purpose was to serve as a tutor, to show us our need for redemption.
  • New Covenant: the covenant of ability. God had to design a way in which we could enter into the blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant.  Thus, He sent His Son to die for our sins and resurrect to give us new life.  That is the essence of the New Covenant.

All matter, and all are essential.  Just like a 3-legged stool, if you remove any of the three, God’s blessing of salvation falls short!

To add excitement to the mix, the New Covenant has a reward!  One day, Jesus the King will return to earth to rule and reign in righteousness.  All Israel will have been saved during the tribulation and they, along with all believers in Jesus the Messiah will reign with Him during the Millennial Kingdom.  Here is how Revelation 19:11-16 describes that coming:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

At Jesus’ first coming, the Jews were looking for a conquering king…one who would save them from the oppression of Roman rule.  Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey was symbolic of a king coming in peace, thus they did not recognize Him as Messiah.  The next time He comes, He will be that conquering king, and they will surely recognize Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Hasten the day, Lord Jesus!

We’re not done, my friends, so come back tomorrow as we continue our study together.  See you then!

Week 11 – Looking for the Blessed Hope

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Welcome to our last week of Why Israel Matters, study friends!  You probably noticed this week’s session is entitled Looking for the Blessed Hope.  For me, it seems it always comes back to that!  So, not only is that the name of this blog, but our study culminates with the same thought: we are to live well as we look for the return of our Blessed Hope…King Jesus.

Over the past two weeks our focus was on bringing the King home (though we know this world is not our home!)  Indeed, Jesus will return to culminate each of the three great covenants (Abrahamic, Mosaic and New), initiating the Davidic Covenant.  Let’s begin this week’s study with a look at Hebrew 8, where the writer describes a “better ministry/covenant.”  Primarily, that “better covenant” refers to the New Covenant, which was better than the Mosaic covenant of law.  Consider these things:

  • According to verse 1, where is the High Priest seated now?  Given that, who do you believe the High Priest is?
  • Verses 4-5 indicate that priests on earth “serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.”  I think of the covenants and of the Jewish feasts…all are copies and shadows of the heavenly things.  Jesus left this earth to go prepare a place for us.  A place filled with SUBSTANCE, not SHADOW!
  • Take careful note of the promises of God in verses 7-12.  What are some of those promises?

Now, while thinking of those promises, consider what the prophet wrote in Ezekiel 36:24-27:

For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

God is serious about His covenants with His people!  Today, the Jews are restored physically to their land (though many have yet to return home).  But one day, they will be restored spiritually.  Oh what a day it will be!  That will happen when the eyes of the Jewish people are finally opened, they recognize their Messiah, all Israel is saved and they invite their King to return!

I want to share a new release from Aaron Shust, who debuted this song at an ICEJ celebration of the opening of the US Embassy in May.  I think it will set the tone for us to close out our study this week.  Please listen carefully to the words, and perhaps even go back an look up the verses at a later time.  Enjoy!

The King Awaits His Invitation

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Hold on to your hats, study friends, as we’re taking a whirlwind ride today!

Recall that after Jesus lamented over Jerusalem, He proclaimed they will not see Him again until He hears “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”  (Matthew 23:39)  Jesus, a gentleman, is not going to barge on to the scene, but rather will wait for that special invitation, signaling His people are ready to receive Him.

But, before we get there, let’s talk briefly about the immanency of His return.  This week’s study is focused on the return of Jesus to His people.  That occurs after the tribulation, which means at least 7 years after believers in Jesus are taken out by rapture.  Thus, while we see signs pointing to that, we must be reminded that our departure via the rapture is indeed very imminent.

Here are some signs of the times, some of which will happen before the rapture, some of which will happen later.  All of which we see lining up right now!

  • Prophetic signs of Jesus.  Example: Matthew 24 warns of false messiahs, wars and rumors of wars and natural disasters, all of which have greater prevalence now than ever before.
  • Prophetic signs of Paul.  Try reading 2 Timothy 3:1-5 where Paul leaves a laundry list of moral failures that characterize the last days.  We’re living in that time!
  • Prophetic signs of Isaiah.  There are many, but perhaps none making today’s headlines more than Isaiah 17:1, indicating the destruction of Damascus.  How much longer can Damascus stand?  Almost the entire city is destroyed right now.
  • Prophetic signs of Ezekiel.  It is likely no one needs to remind you that the Ezekiel 38 coalition of forces that will attack Israel is now firmly in place on Israel’s northern border.  The stage is set.

Luke 21:28 says:

But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

The King is coming, and He is awaiting the Matthew 23:39 invitation.  However, I believe there is another invitation that pleases Him also.  It is found in Revelation 22:17:

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

This is a wedding scene where the Spirit of God and His bride (believers!) join together in a chorus of “Come!”  Can you even imagine what heaven will sound like when God brings His family together as one to wed His Son!

It doesn’t hold a candle to it, but perhaps the imagery in your mind is kindled with this:

 

Indeed, the grandest wedding celebration of all time will occur when God establishes His family and brings us all together in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant…the Millennial Kingdom!

Meanwhile, we keep looking for the Blessed Hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13)!  (That is the topic of our last week of study together, so be sure to stick with us!)

Preparation of a Kingdom

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In His covenant with Abraham, God promised land and descendants…a kingdom.  He gave Abraham and His descendants the land of Canaan (Israel today), establishing “headquarters” for the earthly kingdom.  But a new kingdom is being developed!  This kingdom is a worldwide family made up of those who receive the Messiah.  (Jews and Gentiles)  In this kingdom, there is no distinction.

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
~Galatians 3:26-29

This is the Millennial Kingdom…the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant!  It will be established when Jesus returns physically to this earth.  But remember, He must be invited back!  Here is what Jesus said in Matthew 23:37-39:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

But interestingly, did you know Jesus heard that invitation previously?  Mark 11:9-10 records His triumphant entry into Jerusalem a few days prior, when the people welcomed Him with the very words, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

That was the first preparation for the Kingdom.  A practice run, perhaps.  But what it tells us is the Jewish people have been looking for the King and the Kingdom since the time of Jesus!  This is a long pursuit because they saw but didn’t believe.  Next time, they will see and believe!

As for the timing of the King’s return, we must remember there are two “finish lines.”  Spiritual Israel looks to the rapture, when those who have put their trust in Jesus are snatched away to meet Him in the air.  For unbelieving (natural) Israel, the earthly “finish line” is the glorious appearing of Jesus when He physically sets foot on the Mount of Olives and sets up His Millennial Kingdom.  The Second Coming is actually 1 event in 2 phases (rapture, glorious appearing).

Oh, what glorious days those will be (with a 7 year tribulation period in between).  To see the Lord and to be with Him for all eternity is the only thing worth living for!  I hope you are living to see that day!

Tomorrow’s focus will be on the immanency of Christ’s return, including a special surprise I want to share with you.  Come back tomorrow for the excitement!