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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Israel in the Present Age

We will get back to our series on Walking in the Spirit in due course, but I wanted to speak to the issue of Israel in the present age. I have addressed issues surrounding Israel in previous posts, but two remarks I heard today drive me to try to bring some clarity to the issue.

Here are just a few related posts (I recommend the entire series on the parables of Matthew):

The two remarks come from (a) Tom Hughes of End Times TV, and (b)  a post by a friend on Facebook in regard to AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) lobbying and US Aid to Israel. For the sake of this post, I am not going to address AIPAC's lobbying or US Aid to Israel, rather I want to focus on Israel itself.

(a) In regard to Tom Hughes' remark, it concerns the "rapture" doctrine. We looked at this in our 3-part study on 1 & 2 Thessalonians and the Rapture. After proclaiming his belief in the rapture, he quickly quoted 1 Thessalonians 4, as I expected. We always want to "rightly divide [cut straight] the word of truth." And as we do with all scriptures, we take care to note the context and audience of the verse, passage, and book. We have done that elsewhere, so I will not repeat here. Below I will bring in another verse claimed by the rapture faithful

To be sure, I have great sympathy for many of the views of those who hold to the eschatology held by Tom Hughes. But I think it is important to "mark the things which differ" in scripture and to draw clear lines when possible.

(b) In regard to the comment on AIPAC and support for Israel, my sense is that it comes from a knee-jerk, negative view of Israel and/or those noted as Jews. I say the latter as there are some in Christendom (even those who understand the plan of God as I do) who would charge the Jews in Israel as not being true "Jews."

This is what led me to want to say some quick words about the current State of Israel.

I'll start with some of my basic personal beliefs.

  • Israel has promises that are hers alone which cannot be claimed by any gentile apart from Israel
  • Israel will be restored to the [whole promised] land
  • Israel will face great tribulation
  • Christ will rescue Israel
  • Israel will fulfill her role as God's channel to bless the nations (a kingdom of priests)
  • Both the Old Covenant and New Covenant are Israel's

The verse referenced to show Israel will be born in a day is Isaiah 66:8

Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
This is said have been fulfilled on May 14, 1948. This is very problematic for some very obvious reasons. Firstly, the context of Isaiah 66 is the full restoration of Israel and her Kingdom. Secondly, Israel will be in the land in belief. Currently, Israel is not in the land in belief. Even as a "Jewish State" she tolerates sins similar to the sins we tolerate in the Europe and the USA. 

The dry bones of Ezekiel are coming together, but they still do not have life in them. 

“Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.  I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”
The passage goes on to speak of the Lord placing his Spirit in them. This is not the current condition in Israel. We are seeing only a partial fulfillment.

Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

When the day truly come when God miraculously calls all Israelites to the land, they will come in belief in the Messiah. It will obviously be the hand of God. They will be cleansed to be used as God intended for that nation.

Abraham had two sons, but only one was the son of promise. Isaac had two sons, but only one was the son of promise. Without faith it is impossible to please God and not all Israel is Israel. When Israel comes into the land, true Israel will be believing Israel. So, we have to mark two distinctions of true Israel: they are the children of Abraham by blood and by faith.

There is a parallel question today as to whether the Jews in Israel are "true Jews" (the seed of Abraham). There is a teaching that those there are mostly Europeans descended from the Ashkenazi nation which adopted Judaism (this is the "Khazar myth"). In terms of genetic testing, we are at the mercy of how validity is drawn from such tests. But we do know that Ashkenazi Jews share the same DNA traits as other peoples of middle eastern origin. I am inclined to believe that the vast majority of those calling themselves Jews are, indeed, descended from the disapora of all 12 tribes.

Bringing this full circle, how do I process modern-day Israel?

I believe she is the forerunner of the final fulfillment of prophecy. She is not "true Israel" as in this age, there are no nations. God is dealing with individuals in the present age. Nations only matter as they are in contact with Israel (for or against).

I do believe that the Genesis 12:3 doctrine is true for individuals and will one day be true of the world's nations. I believe we are to honor the children of Abraham, but the "nation" holds no place in the current, silent age.
I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
The nation of Israel this hour is, again, a precursor. Our support of the nation should be two-fold:

  • Blessing the children of Abraham
  • Supporting her as an ally of the USA with similar strategic goals

This is not to say we must support 100% of Israel's policies. As noted, she is in the land in unbelief and God is currently not using her as a channel for his blessings (as he has in previous dispensations and will do again in coming dispensations). As we make allegiance with a nation like Poland or South Korea, we may similarly make allegiance with Israel. Antisemitism is a wicked curse on the earth (and one of the products of Replacement Theology in Christendom). Much of the rejection of our alliance with Israel has to do with hatred of Jews rather than with any strategic and cultural goal.

To sum, we cannot claim Isaiah 66 or Ezekiel 37 have been fulfilled. We must recognize that God is dealing with individuals, not nations directly, in this age. We cannot discount that the people of Israel are the descendants of Abraham. We should not be looking for promises to Israel (including the New Covenant or the "rapture") to be experienced by the church of this age.

That is a very brief overview of a much larger issue.