Why Israel matters
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Bible references to the Promised Land »
Boundaries of the Promised Land »
Warnings of scattering and promises of regathering »
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Session 12 ... transcript
Why Israel matters
God has promised to demonstrate His faithfulness, through the Jewish people, in the land of Israel.
God promised the land to Abraham and to his offspring (see Genesis 12:7).
God confirmed the promise with a blood covenant (see Genesis 15:7-21).
Much later, God imposed The Law on the Jewish people, because of their unbelief.
God warned: "Disobey The Law and I will scatter you among the nations." The Bible records: The Jews did disobey. and history shows: They were scattered.
But, wherever God warned Israel that He would scatter them, He always followed with a promise that, in the end, He would bring them back to the land.
Today we see the nation of Israel re-established in part of the land that God promised. Today we see the Jewish people being regathered from all the nations.
It is such an obvious fulfillment of what was foretold in the Bible, yet there are Christian groups that teach that God has finished His dealings with the Jewish people.
They claim that Israel no longer matters to God. They claim that the church is now the "Israel of God" ... a new spiritual nation, with a spiritual territory of promise.
We believe that God has not finished with Israel. We believe that it is important to have a proper understanding of God's plans for Israel, because it testifies to the faithfulness of God.
Is the land that God promised a physical territory or a spiritual inheritance? The Bible describes a land that has specific geographical boundaries. (Download notes with the Scripture references)
Many landmarks that define the borders of the Promised Land are identifiable today. A literal, physical land is clearly described.
Yes, this reality hints of a spiritual promise that God has for believers in Jesus. Yes, we are looking out for the new Jerusalem that is above (see Galatians 4:26 and Revelation 21:2). Yes, heaven is our ultimate home (see Hebrews 11:16).
But, there is a plain meaning to Scripture that applies to the Jewish people, and that cannot be ignored.
The Bible has more than 170 references to the land that God promised to the Jews. (Download notes with the Scripture references)
55 times God confirmed the promise of the land with an oath. 12 times God said that it was an eternal covenant ... a promise that would never fail. If words mean anything, then we have to take this literally.
Why did God define this physical land, and why did He make such emphatic promises about it?
It's not because Israel deserves it (see Ezekiel 36:32). It's for the sake of His holy name that God will fulfill His promise and bring the Jews back to the land of Israel (see Isaiah 48:11 and Ezekiel 20:44).
It's because God has stated His intention to save all the Jews (the whole house of Israel) in the land of Israel (see Hosea 1:10 and Ezekiel 20:40).
Jesus is going to reveal Himself to the remnant of the Jewish people, in the land of Israel (see Romans 11:26, Zechariah 12:10 and Zechariah 13:1).
It's the demonstration of God's faithfulness in fulfilling the promises that He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
We, as believers in Jesus, should be concerned for the honour of God's name ... not that we have to make these things happen on His behalf (because it is beyond human effort), but it is folly to try to hinder what God has promised to do.
When these things are so clearly stated in the Bible, why is it that there are Christians who don't see significance in what is happening in Israel today? Part of the answer is that they have been influenced by the allegorical mathod of Bible interpretation. An allegory means a story that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning.
The Old Testament hinted at matters that reveal Jesus. The New Testament speaks of "types and shadows" that were in the Old Testament and which reveal Jesus.
Paul wrote about Hagar and Sarah, and compared them to the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. They were symbols, he said (see Galatians 4:24-26).
Jesus spoke of Himself and said that as Jonah was in the belly of the whale, so would He be buried and rise again. There was symbolism is the story of Jonah, Jesus was saying. But note: Jesus said, "as Jonah was in the belly of the whale ..." Jesus was highlighting the symbolism, but He was also confirming that the event was real. Jonah was in the belly of a whale.
The problem comes when people only accept the spiritual interpretation. The problem comes when they dismiss the Old Testament either as fables, as non-literal events, or as having no relevance any longer. We have to accept the plain meaning first. The gospel teaches us this.
The gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) is three historical facts ... Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day. The passage tells us that this is what was foretold in the Old Testament Scriptures. And the passage tells us that we must believew the historical literal event of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection in order to be saved.
There is deep spiritual meaning in the cross ... many implications for our life of faith ... but we must believe the literal event first and foremost.
Now we aren't saying that a person must believe in the literal facts of God regathering the Jews to the Promised Land in order to be saved. But we are saying that the Bible is calling for us to accept the plain words of Scripture, before we apply spiritual meaning.
One other point of confusion arises in this matter of understanding God's purposes for Israel: There are Christian groups who say that the church is now Israel. Is this true? We don't believe it is.
Go now to the next session: "Is the church Israel?"