The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Watch Israel!

“’You are My witnesses,’ says the LORD” – Isaiah 43:10
The Olivet Discourse, Jesus’ primary teaching on the End Times, focuses primarily on Israel (Matthew 24-25, Mark 13 and Luke 21). In the Discourse Jesus mentions the Abomination of Desolation, fleeing on the Sabbath, and the budding of the fig tree all of which find there prophetic meaning in relation to Israel. Israel is an integral part of God’s prophetic plan.  This is true for a number of reasons. 
First, Israel is God’s tool to make Himself known to the world. In the book of Isaiah it states, “"You are My witnesses,” says the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen,” (Isaiah 43:10a; See also Isaiah 43:12; 44:8). God has chosen to use the nation of Israel to prove His existence and reveal Himself to the world. One way He has done this is through the preservation of Israel and especially the reestablishment of Israel as a nation in 1948.
Second, Israel is God’s tool to glorify Himself to the world. God refers to Israel as, “Israel My glory” (Isaiah 46:13). He says of Israel, “. . . ‘You are My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified’” (Isaiah 49:3). In describing the events of the great End Times battle of Ezekiel 38-39 God states, “Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.” ’ (Ezekiel 38:23).
Third, Israel is God’s tool to reveal Himself via prophecy. One of the proofs of God’s existence is prophecy. In Isaiah it states, “ Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’” (Isaiah 46:9-10). God proves He is real and true by speaking prophetically through prophets. God has used the nation of Israel in particular to reveal Himself prophetically. 
God promised a Land to Israel through their patriarch Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 13:15; 15:7; 26:3-5; 28:13; Leviticus 25:46; Joshua 14:9). God brought Israel as a “chosen people” into this Promised Land (Exodus 6:7-8; Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2). He warned Israel if they practiced idolatry and immorality He would evict them from the Land (Deuteronomy 9:4; 28:63; 1 Kings 9:7; 2 Chronicles 7:19-20). They persisted in sinning against God so He did indeed allow them to be taken captive from the Land. God declared Israel would be scattered throughout the earth and they were as a result of their sinfulness (Deuteronomy 28:64; 1 Kings 9:7; Nehemiah 1:8; Jeremiah 9:13-16; 44:2-17; Amos 9:9; Zechariah 7:14). God warned that when Israel was scattered they would be a curse and byword (Deuteronomy 28:37; 2 Chronicles 7:20; Jeremiah 29:18; 44:8). This has come to pass as Jews have been persistently persecuted throughout history. 
Despite their being targeted by merciless persecution, God promised that His chosen people would not be utterly destroyed and would continue as an identifiable ethnic and national group (Jeremiah 30:11; 31:35-37). History has also proven this to be true.
God promised to bring Israel back to the Promised Land in the Last Days and He did this on May 14th, 1948 when Israel was reestablished as a nation  (Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 30:10; 31:8-12; Ezekiel 36:8-10, 22, 24, 33-38). He promised that in the Last Days, Jerusalem, the capitol of Israel, would become a “cup of trembling” (KJV) and a burden to the people’s of the world (Zechariah 12:2-3, 6-8). Jerusalem and Israel, a nation the size of Rhode Island are the center of the International controversy and tension proving God’s word of prophecy to be true.
There is presently a revival of those who theologically and prophetically try to cast Israel aside and replace her with “the Church” (e.g. Preterists; Replacement Theology). But God’s inspired words clearly state, “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! . . .” (Romans 11:1a). In the Bible God refers to Himself as the “God of Israel” over two hundred times and the “Holy One of Israel” thirty times. God associates Himself with Israel throughout the Bible. An entire book is devoted to God as Israel’s Husband (i.e. Hosea). God says He blesses and curses in relation to how people treat the descendants of Abraham (Genesis 12:3). Those are sobering words to those who oppose Israel.
In Romans 11 God reveals His plan for Israel. This plan includes, “that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25b). The word, “until” points to a future purpose of God for Israel. God isn’t finished with Israel. But some persist and protest, “Israel rejects Jesus as Messiah! How can she still be included in God’s plans?” The answer is found in the inspired prophecy of Ezekiel. He spoke of a day when Israel would be reborn as a nation. The vision God gave him was one of a gradual coming together of dead bones (Ezekiel 37:3-6). First the sinews, flesh and skin of the nation, then the breath of life! The nation comes together physically first, then spiritually later. Eternal life is coming to Israel!
When Jesus returns at His Second Coming He will touch down in the City of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4-5). The Second Coming of Jesus will occur at the culmination of the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:13-16; 19:11-21). This is when He delivers Israel from a siege of overwhelming enemies. And it is at this point that Israel will receive Jesus as her Messiah (Zechariah 12:4-10).
Before this time of Tribulation that climaxes in the Second Coming, Jesus will return in the clouds  and rapture all true believers to be with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We are saved from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9). The events happening to Israel indicate we are in the End Times. The rapture could take place at any time. It’s time to get right with God! (Romans 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; 10:10, 13; 12:1-2). Only God knows when the final parts of His prophetic plan will be put in motion. A lot of God’s unfolding plan centers on Israel. God has His eye on Israel (Deuteronomy 32:10; Zechariah 2:8). We should too. Watch Israel and give your heart to the Lord!

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