We’re into week 7 of Why Israel Matters, and I hope you are enjoying our study together. Our focus this week has been on the parting of ways between Jews and Christians. What a sad history has passed, but what tremendous hope if we abide by the apostle Paul’s instructions to us in Romans 11! (We studied that chapter earlier. If you missed it, catch Has God Rejected His People? and Life from the Dead.)
Now, we move our focus back to Israel and consider 4 principles regarding Israel and the nations.
Principle of Domicile
Yesterday, we established that some of God’s promises are unconditional, but others are conditional. Deuteronomy 29-30 provide clear evidence that Israel’s privilege of living in the land is conditional upon their reverence and obedience to God. However, though they may lose the privilege of living in the land, it doesn’t mean they lose ownership of the land!
Even while in exile, the land belongs to Israel.
Principle of Righteousness
When faithful to God, Israel has a right to live in the land. God desires righteousness, and He illustrated it to Joshua after leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. Take a look at Joshua 5:13-15.
There, Joshua had an encounter with the Commander of the Lord’s Army, who told him to take off his sandals, for he was standing on holy ground. In Hebrew minds, taking off one’s sandals was a sign of humility, respect and honor. God desires righteousness and humility. If the Israelites were to stand on holy ground, they must do so with sandals off.
Principle of Discipline
Our key passage is Jeremiah 25:6-11. Here, Jeremiah prophesies of Israel’s exile to Babylon because of their disobedience to God’s command not to pursue other gods. When they did, God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to take them into exile.
God will discipline His people when they disobey. But we must remember: the root word of “discipline” is “disciple.” He might use even Israel’s enemies to discipline His people, but He disciplines for their ultimate good.
Principle of Retribution
Though God may use Israel’s enemies to discipline her, those who desire Israel’s total destruction will face retribution. God spoke this plainly through the prophet Isaiah. Quick glances at Isaiah 49:25-26 and Isaiah 51:21-23 reveal that God Himself will contend with those who contend with Israel.
But Joel 3:1-2 serves as perhaps the clearest warning to those who would scatter His people and divide their land. God promises to bring all nations to the valley of Jehoshaphat for the ultimate “Israel Test.” (Click here to take the test yourself!)
So, in light of current events, Israel is in the land, but is primarily secular and, in many ways, not living righteously. In times past, God has exiled them for lack of obedience. Isaiah 11:11-12 indicates God exiling them, then bringing them back a second time…but not a third. Could God exile and bring them back a third time, though it is not prophesied in Scripture? Perhaps.
But I believe God’s plan is different now. God’s correction will ultimately culminate in the tribulation, during which national revival will take place and all Israel will be saved! God is intent on saving His people!
We are approaching the meat of the study, so stick with us!