Israel back in the land means blessing for the Church

The growth of the Gentile Church coincided with one of the lowest moments in Jewish history – the destruction of Jerusalem by Roman Emperor Titus in AD70.  Those Jews who escaped the devastation were scattered all over the known world.  Some returned to Jerusalem a few years later, but with the defeat of the Jewish uprising by Simon Bar Kokhba, Jewish people were banned from Jerusalem and from Judea.

Jesus clearly warned them about these events:

When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near (Luke 21:20)

They (the Jews) will fall by the sword and will be taken prisoners to all the nations (Luke 21:24)

History bears witness to the trampling of the Jews by the nations which Jesus went on to describe – over the centuries the Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Crusaders, Turks and the British have all laid claim to Jerusalem and the land promised to Abraham and his descendants.

Meanwhile, during the 2000 years when the Jewish people had no homeland, Christians made the assumption that the promises made to Israel must now belong to the Church.  The Church worldwide was totally Gentile, so it was assumed that there had to be a spiritual meaning to God’s promises.

Jesus said something else, however, which in light of modern history, changes our perspective.  He said Jerusalem would be trampled on by the Gentiles ‘until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled’ Luke 21:24.

Suddenly, modern history begins to merge with the words of scripture!  Within living memory Jerusalem has been restored to the Jewish people - in the miraculous events of the Six Day War in 1967.  Whilst battles, both physical and spiritual, will rage over Jerusalem until the day of Jesus’ return, her destiny is as secure today as it ever was.  She will be the joy of the whole earth, and God will make her secure for ever (see Psalm 48).

That we live in the days when the redemption of the Jewish people is drawing near, as Jesus prophesied, should fill us with a tremendous sense of anticipation.  These words are being fulfilled right now!

Miraculously, the Jews never lost their sense of national identity despite having no homeland.  They were targeted in ugly Anti-Semitism fracas in various parts of the world throughout history, yet up until the nineteenth century, occupied Palestine (the land of Israel) was a barren desert, almost completely devoid of Jewish people.  According to Jewish census records, there were only about 24,000 Jewish residents in 17 agricultural colonies at that time. 

Two of the pioneers in the first Aliyah (return to the land) at the turn of the twentieth century largely shaped the future nation.  Eliezer Ben-Yehuda resurrected the Hebrew language, which is now the spoken language of Israel; and David Ben Gurion became Israel’s first Prime Minister.  But it was Theodor Herzl, the ‘Father of Zionism’ and a secular Viennese Jew, who convened the First World Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in 1897.  Thus a movement arose which resulted in hundreds of thousands of Jewish people returning to Palestine, and the eventual establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May, 1948.

The half-century of the Zionist movement was fraught with serious and often tragic setbacks, not least Hitler’s utter hatred for the Jews and determination to exterminate them in the Holocaust.  That the fledgling State survived is just as much of a miracle as the survival of the Jewish race in the Third Reich.  It has been trumped only by the miraculous victory by Israel in the Six Day War in 1967, when Jerusalem was restored to her rightful stewards.

Today, the total population of Israel is around 6 million, of which about 5 million are Jewish. The original 1948 State of Israel was a mere 3,000 square miles; at the conclusion of the War of Independence the land had increased to 8,000 square miles.  By the end of the Six Day War in 1967 the landmass had expanded to 26,000 square miles, and after the Yom Kippur War in 1973, which restored the Golan Heights to Israel, the land consisted of 36,000 square miles.  At the time of writing some of the land has now been returned.

While God has been outworking his purposes for his chosen people, and despite the ‘wars and rumours of wars’ which litter modern history right up to today, there is a distinct correlation with God’s blessing being poured out on the earth.  Statisticians comment that of all the Christians who have ever lived, 70% came to faith since 1897, when Herzl started the ball rolling towards the nationhood of Israel.  Of those, 70% have come to faith since 1967, when Jerusalem was restored. 

While the United Nations were deliberating over the specifics of an Israeli State, China was about to come under Communist rule and every vestige of Christianity was banned.  The  one-million-strong organic Church went underground, unseen and unknown by the West.  By the time of Israel’s Jubilee, 50 years later, the community of faith in China was at the very least 80 million strong, and more likely nearer to 150 million!  Today, 1200 Chinese are coming to faith every hour!

When Zionism began, the continent of Africa consisted of just 3% Christians.  Today, over 50% identify with the Christian faith.  In 1897 Korea was 1% Christian; today that has increased to 40% of the population.  There are over 700,000 members in the Prayer Mountain founded by Dr David Yongghi Cho.  In the same period of time the Church in India has grown to 103 million believers, with new churches being birthed every seven minutes among the Hindus. 

This revival of the church worldwide, coinciding with the return of the Jewish people to their ancient land is the fulfilment of promises given through the prophets before the first coming of Christ to the world.  The apostle Paul explains it as ‘riches for the world’ in Romans 11:12.

But blessings for the Gentiles are not the main plot of the story.  As Paul goes on to say: ‘How much greater riches will their (the Jewish people’s) fullness bring?’ (v12).

When the State of Israel was instigated, there were no Messianic communities.  Christianity was nowhere near the radar of Jews who had suffered at the hands of so-called Christians for centuries.  Whilst the Pentecostal movement coincided with the birth of Zionism, bringing fresh life to the Gentile church, the birth of the Jesus Movement coincided with the restoration of Jerusalem to the Jews in 1967, through which many Jewish young people began to believe that Jesus (Yeshua) is the Messiah of Israel.  Today there are at least 350 Messianic Jewish communities worldwide, and the number is growing!

The ancient Israelites knew that their land was intrinsically tied up with their relationship with God.  It didn’t belong to them; it was the Lord’s, given to them on trust.  Idolatry (Ezra 9:11-12), sexual immorality (Lev 18:24-30), bloodshed (Num 35:33) and broken covenants (Is 24:5) polluted the land, and when the Israelites participated in these sins they paid the price – exile!

If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law . . . you will be uprooted from the land . . . Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other (Deut 28:58-64)

Estrangement from the land did not mark the end of God’s covenant with Israel, however.  As Ezekiel declared, whilst they were 400 miles away in exile in Babylon:

I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone.  I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land.  I will make them one nation in the land (Ezek 37:21,22)

The land of Israel is the most contested piece of land on the face of the earth, yet the wilderness has burst into bloom (Is 35:1,2).  Desert fortunes are being restored.  Vineyards have been planted on the hills of Samaria (Jer 31:5 (the West Bank).  Wealth from other nations is being invested in Israel (Is 60:5). 

We are living in the days of fulfilment of ancient prophecies.  The ‘times of the Gentiles’ are coming to an end, and the day of the fullness of the Jewish people is making its appearance.  As if to put a seal on the importance and imminence of these events, God has put signs in the heavens.

Both during the establishment of the State of Israel (1948-9), and during the period of the Six Day War and its aftermath (1967-68) there were a series of four lunar eclipses coinciding with the Jewish feasts of Passover in the Spring, and Tabernacles in the Autumn, over two consecutive years.  These moons appear red in colour, hence the term ‘blood moons’. 

The occurrence of a tetrad (series of four) blood moons is not common; there have only been 62 in the last 2000 years; but for them to coincide exactly with four Feasts of Israel is very rare.  It has only happened 8 times in the same time period, and the last three have occurred when strategic events in the history of the Jewish people are taking place.

We are living right now in the midst of the ninth set of four blood moons which coincide with Passover and Tabernacles!  The first was on 14 April 2014 (Passover).  These are tremendously significant days for Israel and the Church, which the prophet Joel alerted us to:

I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.  The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord (Joel 2:30-31)

Whatever events these signs in the heavens portray, it may be our privilege to see the day when Israel’s borders reach to the extent of her full inheritance – from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates (Gen 15:18), despite Obama’s ‘Two State Solution’ and the pressure Israel is under to ‘trade land for peace’.  Israel’s physical land and her spiritual blessings belong together.

Perhaps then we’ll see Jew and Gentile together bringing unity to the Church.  Amidst global chaos Abraham’s greatest son, Jesus, will return to Jerusalem to rule and reign, and the ultimate fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham will take place:

I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you (Gen 12:3)

. . . it may be our privilege to see the day when Israel’s borders reach to the extent of her full inheritance – from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates (Gen 15:18), despite Obama’s ‘Two State Solution’ and the pressure Israel is under to ‘trade land for peace’ . . .

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