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God’s Plan for Israel and the Nations

Jerusalem

Jerusalem (Photo by Jackmalipan)

“In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.”  (Isaiah 2:2)

God’s plan for Israel and the nations is intertwined.  When God chose the Jewish People through Abraham (Genesis 12:2–3), He said He would make Abraham into a great nation.  Part of that promise was to bless those who blessed him and curse those who cursed him or his offspring.

That promise has been at work throughout the ages, and we certainly have evidence of it throughout history.

In the last century alone, we saw the fall of the British Empire, an empire so vast the sun never set on it.  And although it was instrumental in initiating the 1917 Balfour Declaration that began the process of Israel becoming a nation, it was also instrumental in turning away Jews and dividing up the land when the Jewish People needed Britain’s help the most, after the liberation of the Nazi death camps in 1945.

An empire that took 300 years to acquire crumbled in 30 years.  (Lecture by John Somerville on May 27, 2015, Temecula, California)

British Empire in 1921

The red areas reveal the extent of the British Empire in 1921.

Today, the Arab nations that have dedicated themselves to destroying the Jewish nation are themselves being destroyed.

For example, Israel’s neighbor Syria, which has tried to destroy Israel in several wars, including attacking Israel in 1948 when she declared her independence, is now itself being destroyed by warring internal factions and outside Jihadist Islamic forces, such as Hezbollah and the Islamic State (IS).  In fact, the “state of war” with Israel has never been officially called off.

Everywhere that IS forces move, they unleash havoc and destruction.  That destruction is indiscriminate—from the rape, enslavement, torture, and murder of Yazidi and Christians to the annihilation of Shia Muslims.

While countries seeking to obliterate Israel are themselves experiencing ruin, those countries that bless the Jewish state are being blessed.

For instance, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and is able to effectively ward off the advancing Jihadist forces of IS.

Another neighbor of Israel, Egypt, has been working closely with Israel on security issues against IS and Hamas since overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood Government.  Although IS has infiltrated the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt has been able to withstand their advances as well.

Iran threatens to annihilate Israel almost daily, and that country has been experiencing great economic hardships, as well as abnormally high levels of earthquakes. 

Souq in the city of Aqaba on the Red Sea in Jordan

A market in Jordan

Although the Western nations may differ in degree as to the extent that they support Israel, so far they as a whole have been able to sustain their economic growth and social stability.  As anti-Semitic forces increase and become more powerful in these countries, these nations put themselves at risk.

A great number of factions in Western nations increasingly seek to displace the Jewish People off their land by dividing Jerusalem.  University professors and progressive activists often support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, and so do the students who sit under their mentorship.

These same groups recognize the “State of Palestine” as a sovereign entity though it has not yet made any peaceful negotiation agreements with Israel, or recognized her right to exist as a sovereign nation.

Indeed, some argue that current fluctuations in the United States economy and weather patterns are linked with its treatment of the Jewish nation.

The US administration in the past six years has been highly critical of Israeli policies regarding Biblical issues, such as not dividing Jerusalem.  Israel also demands national security by condemning the latest Iranian nuclear proposals and by insisting on defensible borders.

This once God-fearing nation is suffering from excessive climate shifts.  For instance, as one area is being pounded by horrendous storms, the western portion of the country suffers an extended drought.

After World War II, when the US strongly supported the formation of a Jewish state, she enjoyed at least a decade or more of economic growth and well-being.  Every US president since Harry Truman has supported the existence and defense of Israel in some unequivocal form, until today.

While many in Congress and the Senate try to negate these policies at the Executive branch, time will tell what the real consequences of President Obama’s attitude toward Israel will be.

God wants to bless those who bless the Jewish People because He has a greater plan for all mankind that begins with the descendants of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.  So it is in the best interests of all nations to be aligned with God’s plan and not against it.

Jerusalem, as seen from the Old City of Jerusalem Walls

Jerusalem, as seen from the ramparts of the walls of Old City of Jerusalem.

God’s Plan for the Nations

“I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.  I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles.”  (Isaiah 42:6)

God’s plan for the nations cannot be fulfilled without the Jewish People.

God chose the Jews to be a light to the nations—that is, to shine the light of God’s love and truth into the darkness of this world.

Although some think that God only loves and favors the Jews, the truth is that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  (1 Timothy 2:4)

The idea of One New Man—Jews worshiping the God of Israel together with Gentiles, being nurtured by His Word together, forever—has always been the heart of God.

That Word, both the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the Brit Chadashah (New Testament), is a gift given to the nations through the Jews.  It reveals God’s desires, nature, promises, covenants, laws, wisdom and also prophecies—future truths about the salvation of the world through the Messiah, who would be born of a Jewish mother.

Yeshua HaNozri (Jesus of Nazareth) was born in Bethlehem as prophesied and brought the Gospel of God’s love, salvation and forgiveness to the Jew first, but also to the Gentiles (Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:4–7; Romans 1:16).

A market in Nazareth

A market in Nazareth

In his parable of the Good Shepherd, Yeshua assured the Jewish leaders (Pharisees) that salvation is through Him: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”  (John 10:9)

This gate is not exclusively open only to Jews, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen.  I must bring them also.  They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”  (John 10:16)

Yeshua never turned away a Gentile who was acting on his or her faith in Him as the prophesied Jewish Messiah.

Those who listen to His voice, and follow Him as their Shepherd, are justified by faith, becoming children of Abraham, spiritual descendants and partakers of the Abrahamic covenant, in which God made several unconditional promises:

“I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  (Genesis 12:2–3)

Through Abraham’s seed, which includes Believers in Yeshua, all families of the earth shall be blessed. 

A Jewish boy prays at the Western (Wailing) Wall.

A Jewish boy prays at the Western (Wailing) Wall.

God’s Plan: The Blessing of the Nations

The nations have been blessed through Israel in agricultural, medical, legal, political, economic, cultural, and technical advances.  Though about 2% of the population and arguably the most persecuted people group in the world, the Jewish People have been awarded 23% of all individual Nobel prizes from 1901–2014.

Likewise, a high level of accomplishment has been achieved throughout much of the Jewish population, resulting in advances and inventions that benefit Jews and Gentiles equally.

The most profound blessing, however, has come through the most persecuted and most righteous Jew of all, Yeshua HaMashiach.

What He accomplished was first prophesied in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve’s sin separated them from God’s perfect love and doomed their descendants into the same spiritual separation—a cursed existence.

God so loved all of His creation that He set the blessing of the nations in motion way back in Genesis 3 when He told the deceiving serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”  (Genesis 3:15)

The enemy of God successfully bruised the heel of Yeshua at the execution stake.  But Yeshua successfully bruised the enemy’s head when He conquered death by rising from the grave, becoming the firstfruits of all who would one day be resurrected into eternity with Him.

The great blessing and good news is that all people—Jew or Gentile—who trust in Yeshua for their salvation will share in His victory over the enemy who has tried to keep them separated from God’s love and eternity with Him.

And those whose lives have been transformed through the Jewish Messiah will agree that no physical blessing can compare with an intimate, personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe.  Although the promise of the transformative faith originates in God’s promise in the Garden of Eden, it was activated through Israel and God’s promise to make her a light to the world.

Indeed, salvation comes to Gentiles through the Jews as custodians of the Word and through the Jewish Messiah who is a descendant of King David.

Yeshua enters Israel on a donkey.

Yeshua enters Jerusalem on a donkey.

God’s Plan: The Salvation of the Jews

God’s plan was that His Chosen People be the first to recognize their Messiah and spread His message of salvation to the nations.

And although Israel was not saved nationally at that time, the first Believers were Jewish.

God even used the fact that Israel did not accept Yeshua nationally to bring the message of Yeshua to the nations, initially through those Jews who were the first to come to faith.

Scripture is clear, however, that eventually all Israel will be saved once the fullness of the Gentiles has come in:

“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved.”  (Romans 11:25–26)

There has always been a remnant of Jewish Believers in Yeshua as the Messiah, but not nearly as many as the world will see when the fullness of the Gentiles comes in and the Jews begin to soften their hearts toward Yeshua.

When will this fullness occur?

Yeshua said that “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”  (Luke 21:24)

Some believe, therefore, that the time of the Gentiles was fulfilled in 1967 when Gentiles (i.e., Jordanians, who were the last Gentiles to control the area) no longer ruled the eastern portion of Jerusalem, including the Old City.

Indeed, it seems that a move of God’s Ruach (Spirit) began in 1967 when the Jewish nation reacquired possession of the Temple Mount and the Temple site.

A Jewish woman prays in the woman's section of Jerusalem's Western Wall.

A Jewish woman prays in the woman’s section of Jerusalem’s Western Wall.

It is a fact that since 1967, there has been a significant move of the Spirit both in the US and in Israel and other countries that began a revival of both Gentiles and Jewish people coming to know their Messiah.

Jewish evangelist Sid Roth, who is known for his internationally broadcast program, It’s Supernatural, appeared with Pat Robertson on CBN’s 700 Club to describe a meeting recently held in Jerusalem.

As Sid explains it, since the “times of the Gentiles” have been fulfilled, the Jewish people are hungry for their Messiah.  As a result of this spiritual hunger, as many as 98% of those attending the meeting or about 650 Jews, according to Sid, stood up to accept the Lord.  (CBN)

What is perhaps even more exciting is that the attitude of the people of the Jewish state toward Messianic Jews and Messianic Judaism has changed strikingly in recent years.

For a majority of those living in Israel, Messianic Judaism is no longer seen as a threat but as a legitimate expression of belief.

Just last December, Messianic believer Shai Sol was emboldened to share her faith on Israeli television when she appeared in the Israeli version of American Idol (HaKochav HaBa—The Next Star).

Although she had been advised not to do so, she ignored such warnings and boldly declared her faith.

It was so well received that the producers of the show included it in their weekly promotional commercials at the time.  This led to a very positive debate in the media with regard to Jewish believers in Yeshua and their place in Israeli society.  (Israel Today) 

Sid Roth on the set of It's Supernatural

Sid Roth on the set of It’s Supernatural.

God’s Plan: Reconciliation of the Church and Jewish People

About the same time that Shai was declaring her faith over national television, veteran Israeli Messianic leaders, street evangelist Jacob Damkani, and Bible teacher Joseph Shulam spoke together on Damkani’s online studio program to discuss the misguided notion that Israel and its Jewish population must “convert” to Christianity in order to come to faith in Yeshua (Jesus).

Shulam, who is the director of Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry, summed up the truth of the matter when he said, “Israel is not being reformed, it is being restored.”

He compared the spiritual movement of Believers in Israel today with those Zionist pioneers who first came to the Land 105 years ago, creating one of the world’s most advanced nations.

The pioneers of the Messianic movement in the land of the Messiah have laid a foundation for the advancement of Scriptural openness and revelation toward who exactly is the Jewish Messiah.

Shulam said, “The Jewish people are rediscovering our relationship with Yeshua …,” but added, “You cannot restore something without first clearing out the garbage, both on the Jewish side and the Christian side.”

That garbage includes the wounds created over millennia of misunderstandings and false doctrines taught by the Church about God’s plan for the Jewish People. 

Joseph Shulam (YouTube capture)

Joseph Shulam (YouTube capture)

As well, Damkani pointed out that we have to replace the incorrect blond-haired, blue-eyed Christian image of Yeshua with His real Jewish identity.

Shulam said that Yeshua needs to be rediscovered “so our people can relate to him.”  He added that both Christians and Jews can benefit by removing the “man-made” elements that surround the Messiah and going straight to the Word of God, to Yeshua’s historical roots, which include the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.

Christians reconnecting with this Biblical foundation “is a key to the restoration,” he said.  “You cannot have a Biblical Church without the Jews being part of it.”

Stressing the importance of what both bring to the picture, Shulam related a story told by a famous Jewish rabbi who came to faith in Yeshua.  The rabbi explained that the relationship between Israel and the Church is like a giant jigsaw puzzle in which the Jews hold 70% of the pieces, but the Church holds the center piece.

“We can never finish the puzzle without the Church, and the Church can never finish the puzzle without Israel,” the rabbi said.  (Israel Today)

Remarkably, or perhaps supernaturally in line with God’s plan for this reconciliation, the Catholic Church in 1965 issued a groundbreaking declaration that reversed its theology regarding the Jewish People and the death of Yeshua:

“… what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. … The Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures.  All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ. … Christ underwent His passion and death freely, because of the sins of men and out of infinite love, in order that all may reach salvation.”  (Nostra Aetate, Vatican)

The pieces of God’s plan of salvation puzzle for all mankind are indeed being put in their proper alignment.

Jacob Damkani (YouTube capture)

Jacob Damkani (YouTube capture)

Reaching for Yeshua

These then are exciting times as God’s plan for Israel and the nations is being fulfilled in our day.  As the fullness of the Gentiles comes in (or perhaps has come in), the more openness the Jewish People will express toward seeking the truth of who their Messiah is.

As Pastor Jack Hayford describes it: “Forty years ago when I first went to Israel, I asked how often does a Jew here in the land receive Jesus as Messiah.  They said, ‘If one a year does, here in the land of Israel, we consider it an occasion for great celebration.’  Today, there are Messianic Jews in the land.  In Israel, every week there are Jews receiving the Lord as Messiah.”

He adds that (as of 2010) “there are about 100 Messianic congregations scattered through the land.”

Sid Roth tells Gentile Believers that the Jewish People are ripe for salvation.

In fact, God wants to use the Gentile Believers in the nations to bring the Good News back to the Jewish People.

It is no accident when a Jewish person crosses a Believer’s path. “God wants you to love them to the Messiah,” he said.   (CBN)

Sid Roth compared his April meeting in Jerusalem in which 650 Jews accepted the Lord to the time of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell on the first Jewish Believers and thousands were saved in Jerusalem.

As increasing numbers of Jews come to know their Messiah, they are being joined with their Gentile brothers and sisters—grafted into the same olive tree, which is nourished by one root.

As Paul tells the Gentile Believers in Rome:

“… some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root.”  (Romans 11:17)

Jewish Believers are being grafted into their own root, the “nourishing sap from the olive root.”

And if an increasing number of Jewish people are getting saved, then, as Sid explains, an even larger number of Gentiles can be expected to accept the Messiah and understand the Jewish roots of their faith.

Harvesting olives on the Mount of Olives (Photo by Jill Granberg)

Harvesting olives on the Mount of Olives (Photo by Jill Granberg)

God’s Plan: All Israel Will Be Saved

“Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people.  I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you.  The LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem.”  (Zechariah 2:11–12)

The joining together of both Gentiles and Jews into one olive tree is God’s ultimate plan for both His Jewish People and the nations.

Moreover, when Messiah reigns from Jerusalem, and the nations will come up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord.

Many of God’s promises to Israel have been fulfilled, but in the Messianic era, many more will be fulfilled.

For example, in Genesis 15:18, God made a covenant with Abraham and promised his descendants all of the land “from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.”

Of course, this promise has not yet been fulfilled.  On the contrary, the world seems to be on a program to minimize the extent of God’s promise to Israel in terms of geography, while others devise plans to move her off the Land.

But while Israel lives today in constant threat of being devoured, the Prophet Isaiah says that when the Righteous One comes again, “the LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem.”  (Zechariah 2:12)

God will save His people is such a way that all the nations will realize that the God of Israel is the God of the Universe.  And while salvation is for the Jew first, it is also for the Gentile—ultimately, God’s love and salvation is for all peoples everywhere as God foretold in the Garden.

God has a plan for Israel and the nations, and it is good.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

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