Why DOES Israel Matter?

Image result for why israel matters

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!

The Third Great Covenant: New Covenant

Image result for why israel matters

Wow, we’ve covered some exciting ground this week!  Thanks for following along, and I hope you are blessed as we study the third great covenant today.

Over the past two days, we have established that the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant function as a 3-legged stool, making all necessary.  The Abrahamic Covenant is the covenant of DECISION because God decided to preach the gospel to Abraham in order that, through him, all the nations of the earth would be blessed.  God decided what the Abrahamic Covenant would accomplish.

However, it wasn’t enough.  The world has a difficult time recognizing the need for salvation, thus God gave the law to Moses via the Mosaic Covenant.  This covenant of INSTRUCTION, teaches us our need for salvation (the blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant), but in and of itself, it cannot save us!  The law is our tutor, not our savior!

So, we have God’s DECISION (Abrahamic Covenant) and INSTRUCTION (Mosaic Covenant), but we still lack the ABILITY…the third leg of the stool.  That is accomplished through the New Covenant, so that’s where we will focus today.

We spent yesterday in Galatians 3 and you’re encouraged to go back there again today.  Verses 10-14 tie the Mosaic Covenant to the New Covenant.  Notice what verses 10-13 tell us:

  • Living under law is a curse
  • No one is justified by the law
  • The law is not of faith

The kicker:  Christ redeemed us from the law!  How?  2 Corinthians 5:21 provides that answer:

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Now, go back to Galatians 3:14!  Did you catch it?  Jesus became sin on our behalf…and it is through Him that we receive the promise of the Holy Spirit!

The apostle Paul is pointing us to what Jeremiah prophesied:

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.
~Jeremiah 31:31-32 
[Emphasis mine]

According to Jeremiah, God is making a different covenant than the one He made with Moses.  He is making a New Covenant, and guess with whom He made it!?!  The house of Israel and the house of Judah……the Jewish people!  The New Covenant is a JEWISH thing, not a Christian thing!  Sometimes I think we have tried to hijack a Jewish covenant and make it our own.

Jesus’ death on the cross made the blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant possible…to the Jew first!  But, because God preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, then commissioned him to be a blessing to all the families of the earth, we as Gentiles get to partake of a covenant made with the Jewish people and extended to us!

Wow!  What a plan!  The New Covenant is the third leg of the stool.  It is the covenant of ABILITY.

And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
~Galatians 3:29

The 3-legged stool stands…each part based on the character of God.  The INSTRUCTION of the Mosaic Covenant, coupled with the ABILITY of the New Covenant, allows us to benefit from the DECISION of the Abrahamic Covenant.

But there’s more….and you’ll have to come back tomorrow as we tie up all the loose ends.  This is fabulous stuff that only a God infinitely bigger than our own imagination could ever conceive.  We’ll talk more tomorrow, but chew on what we’ve studied this week.

“Hineni: Here I am. Send me!”

How do you respond when God calls?

We are given several examples in Scripture where God called and the response was “Hineni!”  For example, at the burning bush, Moses replied, “Hineni!” to God when He called.  Abraham responded, “Hineni!” just before God asked him to sacrifice his only son.  Of course, Samuel’s cry of “Hineni!” is probably the best-known example in Scripture.

But have you ever thought about God saying, “Hineni!” when we call?  Our Father is devoted to us, and demonstrated it by sending His Son to die for us.  Because of that, He listens for our cries for help and responds with “Hineni!”

Hineni is the Hebrew word for “Here am I!”  I just read an excellent article from One for Israel, explaining the meaning of the word, then challenging us to heed God’s call.  I hope you will take time today to read Hineni: Here I am. Send me!

Be blessed, my friends!

 

Faith Brings Salvation!

Image result for why israel matters

What glorious truths are found in Romans 9-11!  It’s like a treasure hunt, and the golden nuggets are invaluable!  I hope you are enjoying this week’s study as we examine the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.  We’re headed into Romans 10 today, but if you missed the previous two posts, I recommend you back up and catch them so that you get the fullness of today’s lesson.

Paul opens Chapter 10 driving home the idea that righteousness and salvation are attained by faith alone, not by works.  Then, he cuts straight to the chase in verses 9-10:

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

That’s as plain and simple as it gets!  In fact, if you are following this study (or you simply stumbled upon this post) and you have tried to gain God’s acceptance through anything but simple faith, it is not a coincident that you are here!  He is speaking to you this very moment!  Our Lord longs for relationship with you and you can do nothing to earn it.  Salvation truly is simple: confess and believe!  (Click here for more guidance about how to be saved.)

Salvation is the same for everyone…Jews or Gentiles.  Paul goes on to explain that in verses 12-13 of Romans:

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

However, verses 14-21 allude to the difficulty of the Jewish people in understanding and trusting in faith alone.  To call upon God, they must believe.  To believe, they must they must hear.  To hear, there must be a preacher. Preachers must be sent.

Well, throughout history, God sent “preachers.”  They were called prophets in the Old Testament!  Men such as Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah and others foretold of Christ the Messiah who would come to the Jews.  The preachers came…and the Jewish people heard.  Yet, they did not simply believe by faith.  Instead, they tried to keep the law of Moses.

Verse 15 talks about the beautiful feet of those who bring good news (the Gospel).  The Gospel is all about faith and nothing more.  I want beautiful feet, how about you?  I want to share the good news with others (including Jews).  May we all yearn for beautiful feet!

Allow me to divert for a moment.  Sadly, there are very large Christian organizations (such as Christians United for Israel [John Hagee, who denies Jesus as Messiah] and International Fellowship of Christians and Jews [Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein]) who wholeheartedly love Israel and care for the Jewish people, but WILL NOT “preach the Gospel” to them.  (I’m not suggesting obnoxious “in your face” evangelism that is unnecessarily offensive, but about intentionally taking the opportunities God gives to share the love of Christ both in word and deed.)  How sad that the very key thing Paul teaches about regarding Jewish-Christian relations is not innocently overlooked, but intentionally set aside.  (You can find out about Jewish-related ministries and their sometimes veiled objectives here.)

Romans 10:19 compels us to be a nation (people group) willing to show the love of Messiah, in order to make the Jewish people jealous.  Let’s practice what God’s Word commands!

We’re headed for Romans 11 tomorrow, and it gets REALLY good at that point!  So, here’s your homework: go read that chapter, then join us here again tomorrow as we launch into that chapter!

UPDATE: Friends, I just watched a video that corresponds so closely with our study this week about Christian-Jewish relations.  Tune into an interview with Eitan Shishkoff, an American-born “hippie Jew,” who now lives and ministers in Israel.  He has incredible insight into Jewish-Christian relations.  Catch the interview at the 1:19:50 mark here:

Christ Revealed – Episode 9

(Christ Revealed is a 9-part documentary, with a single episode released each day.  This was Day 9, and I believe the video is available only until 6:00pm Pacific time today.)