Sunday, April 28, 2013

Israel - The Big Picture, Part 1


It has come to my attention lately, through several emails from friends, that the Church is either confused or badly misinformed about the role of Israel today in God’s plan.  So why is Israel important?

In this post, which will be rather long, I will be looking at the Biblical and historical background of Israel.  Part 2 will look at the rise of modern Zionism since the mid 1800s and the formation of the State of Israel.  You may or may not agree with my conclusions, but I encourage you to stay in the Word and pray for God to give you understanding.  I am not your ultimate authority, He is.


God’s plan for mankind, especially the culmination, is centered on Israel.  Many in the church have a hard time with this, but it’s true.  When Yeshua returns to earth, it will be to Jerusalem.  He will set up His millennial kingdom there.

Satan knows this, and is doing everything in his power to stop the plan of God from happening.
Israel begins with a promise to Abram, later called Abraham.  (Israel was still a twinkle in Abraham’s eye, so to speak).  Technically, the redemptive seed was promised way back in the garden after the fall.  But it was through Abraham that God really began to unfold His purposes.

Gen 12:3 tells us God’s promise to Abraham, and it is also a promise to us:  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.  This blessing was repeated for Isaac in Genesis 17:19, and Jacob in Genesis 27:29.  Jacob’s name was later called Israel.

In Genesis 15, God made an unconditional covenant with Abraham.  The sealing of the covenant involved the cutting of the animals.  God alone passed through and consumed those pieces with fire, which tells us that this covenant is unconditional.  

Genesis 15:18-19 says, And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying:  To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates (and then goes on to list all the tribes that currently lived in the land). 

This promise is reiterated again in Psalm 105:9-11 - The covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance.”

Gen 17:7 also tells us this will be an everlasting covenant.  This covenant has never been rescinded!  God keeps His promises!

The nation of Israel was forged in Egypt from the 12 sons of Jacob (Israel), and then delivered out of bondage.  In scripture, Egypt represents sin.  The Passover and exodus out of Egypt is a picture of redemption from our sin.

The Israelites were led into the wilderness and given the covenant at Sinai – the law, or Torah.  Its purpose was to demonstrate their own sinfulness – falling short of God’s perfect standard.  No one was able to perfectly keep it.  This covenant was conditional, temporary, and required obedience to it. Deuteronomy 30 talks about the blessing or cursing in regard to keeping God’s commandments.  But this was NOT an everlasting covenant.  Someone was to come Who would fulfill it perfectly.

Jeremiah confirms this when he prophesied the new covenant.  Jer 31:31-33 says “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

So after Israel left Egypt, they wandered in the wilderness 40 years due to their fear of entering the Promised Land.  They finally took the land, and began living there and being governed by judges.  But they wanted to be like other countries, so they cried out for a king.  Israel was then ruled by kings Saul, David, and Solomon respectively.

After King Solomon, the Israelites split into two kingdoms, the north and the south.  The northern kingdom, Israel, fell into idolatry first and were scattered.  The southern kingdom of Judah remained for another hundred or so years but also succumbed to idolatry.  They were sent to  Babylon for 70 years, and then brought back miraculously through Cyrus, king of Persia (who was mentioned BY NAME hundreds of years before he was even born, by Isaiah in chapters 44 and 45).

The Jews came back from Babylon because God keeps His promises.  And, they needed to be back in the land to bring forth the Savior, who was to be born in Bethlehem as prophesied.

The new covenant came, replacing the temporary covenant made at Sinai, which Yeshua instituted at the Passover meal the night before His death, and then sealed it with His blood on the cross.  The new covenant was made with Israel and Judah, exactly as foretold by Jeremiah.


Yeshua perfectly fulfilled every single command of the Torah.  Because He did not fall short, or sin, He was able to pay our penalty for us.  In doing so, He BECAME the law… it is trust in HIS redemptive work that saves us.  He is the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31.  (Yeshua did not come to start a new religion called Christianity.  He was the Jewish Messiah who came to fulfill God’s singular plan of redemption for the entire world.)

The new covenant was rejected by the Jewish leaders, and therefore by most of the Jewish people.  (This is why leaders are held to a higher standard – people tend to be sheeple and follow their leaders blindly.)  However, many people thought for themselves… the entire early church was Jewish… thousands of them.

Just as the Jews were punished for disobedience to the Sinai covenant by being sent to Babylon for 70 years, as a nation, they were also punished for rejection of the new covenant.  Since the new covenant was a much better and higher covenant, so too was the punishment for its rejection.  Instead of 70 years, the Jews were dispersed throughout the four corners of the earth, where they remained for nearly two millennia.

But because of the everlasting Abrahamic covenant, they will be [and are being] brought back.  Just as they were brought back to fulfill God’s purposes in the FIRST visitation of the Messiah, so too will they be brought back to fulfill God’s purposes for the SECOND visitation of Messiah.  And that is exactly what is happening today!

The Book of Amos is filled with judgments on Judah and Israel.  Most of it is rather depressing.  However, the very last two verses – Amos 9:14-15 says,
I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
I will plant them in their land,
And NO LONGER shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.

Did you catch that?  NO LONGER?  This cannot mean the Babylonian exile, because they were exiled again after that. 

So where is the church in all this?

A change began to occur in the all-Jewish church beginning in Acts 10.  The kingdom of God began to be offered to Gentiles!  This was unheard of in the Jewish culture!  The Torah had kept the Jews separate from Gentiles, for the most part. 

The Jerusalem Council convened in Acts 15 to decide what to do with all these Gentiles that wanted to follow Yeshua, and the consensus was, yep, let those Gentiles come in.  Ephesians 2:12 says, speaking to Gentiles, that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the COMMONWEALTH OF ISRAEL and strangers from the COVENANTS OF PROMISE, having no hope and without God in the world.

Romans 11 then gives us a great picture of the Gentiles being grafted into the olive tree of Israel, and warns us not to be arrogant toward the branches that were broken off. 

Unfortunately, arrogance did happen.  Some of the early gentile church fathers began teaching that God was done with Israel.  Origen and Chrysostoam both spoke against the Jews.  This is called Replacement Theology – the idea that God hates the Jews and is finished with them, and that all His promises are now for the Gentile church.  This was picked up by the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, and carried right into the Reformation with Martin Luther, who said some terrible things about the Jews.  He wrote a treatise called “On the Jews and Their Lies.”  You can google it to see what it said, but prepare to be disgusted if you've never seen it before.

How did/do these teachers of Replacement Theology miss Romans 11?  Look at verses 1-2: I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has NOT cast away His people whom He foreknew. 

Verses 11 and 12 tell us:  I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, HOW MUCH MORE  their fullness!

Verse 26 says ,
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”
 (Paul is quoting Isaiah 59:20)

Sadly, there is still an anti-Israel sentiment that is pervasive even today in many, many churches.  Some are adopting boycotts of any Israeli-made goods.  At a recent IHOP [International House of Prayer] conference we attended, there were people protesting the Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people and handing out postcards of what they call the “apartheid” wall (more information on all of this in part 2).

Is this what God wants for His church?  Let me give you a few passages to consider and meditate on.
Again, read Genesis 12:3 - I will bless those who bless you, and he who curses you I will curse… this is part of the everlasting covenant.  This applies to us today! 

And by the way, two different words are used for “curse” in Hebrew.  The word arar means just what it says, to curse.  The other word, qalal, means “to treat lightly, to ignore, to lightly esteem.”  The NET Bible translation sticks pretty close to the original language:  I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse

Deuteronomy 32:9-10 says [speaking of Israel],
 For the Lord’s portion is His people;
Jacob is the place of His inheritance.  

 “He found him in a desert land
And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness;
He encircled him, He instructed him,
He kept him as the apple of His eye.”



Now that we know WHO the “Apple of my eye” is, let’s look at Zechariah 2:8 - For thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you [Israel] touches the apple of His eye.

The “apple” is the pupil – one of the most sensitive parts of the body.  It’s like poking God in the eye when you lightly esteem His chosen people.

I love this one - Isaiah 40:1-2
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!”  says your God.
“Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
That her warfare is ended,
That her iniquity is pardoned;
For she has received from the Lord’s hand
Double for all her sins.”


Exactly who is God talking to in this passage?  To Israel, to comfort herself?  I don’t think so!  Comfort MY people says YOUR God.  The word for comfort is menachem, which is also one of the Hebrew words for the Holy Spirit – the comforter.  The Word is addressing Holy Spirit-filled believers here!  The Ten Boom family understood this verse as they reached out to God’s people before and during World War II.

See how Yeshua weeps over His people in Matthew 23:37, knowing what was coming for them:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more UNTIL you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  (Until means that something is coming).

This same end-time context is carried over to Matthew 25, beginning in verse 34:
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these MY BRETHREN you did it to Me.’  

He is literally talking about His close kinsmen here – the Jewish people.  What follows is the separation of the sheep and the goats.  In this case, you want to be a sheep!


Think about the prodigal son story of Luke 15(which the NET version beautifully calls the Story of the Compassionate Father).  The church historically has acted very much like the older, arrogant brother.  Yet the loving and compassionate Father is waiting, waiting for his wayward son longingly.

God will put different people groups on your heart.  For me, it is Mexico and India. But keeping Romans 1:16 in mind puts things in proper perspective: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of the Messiah, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 

On Paul’s journeys, he ALWAYS went to the Jews first.  God blesses that and gives His increase all over the world.

Moishe Rosen, founder of Jews for Jesus, was accused in a radio interview that in his ministry, for every Jew that was saved, five gentiles come to faith.  His response… “well, what do you want me to do?  Throw them back?”

In closing, do you want to be blessed?  Bless Israel! 

Bless them prayerfully, financially, physically – however you can!  Make some Jewish friends.  Seek them out.  Love them unconditionally, regardless of whether they receive Yeshua as their savior or not. 

Ruth, the Gentile from Moab, attached herself to Israel.  The passage “your people shall be my people” makes a lovely wedding sentiment, but that isn’t what Ruth was talking about.  Did God bless her for her attachment to Israel?  Ruth the Moabite became the great grandmother of King David, and thus helped bring about the first coming of the Messiah through her faithful alliance.  Could it be that by attaching ourselves to Israel today, we Gentiles can help bring about the second coming of the Messiah?

Psalm 122:6 says, Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:  May they prosper who love you.


For part two,  a look at modern Israel, please click here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Jewish Nakba

This week is the celebration of the 65th birthday of the State of Israel.


If you follow the Middle East conflict at all, you are probably aware that Arabs do not celebrate Israel's Independence Day.  What you will hear about from Arabs instead is the "Nakba" (which is Arabic for catastrophe).  They are referring to the great exodus of Arabs from Israel that took place as the surrounding Arab countries invaded the newborn country with the intention of destroying it.  Many Arabs fled in the face of the invasion, encouraged by their own leadership to do so and being reassured that they could return home after the Jews had been driven into the sea.  Other Arabs were forced out by the Israeli troops who were defending their new country in the face of the attacks.

The numbers are disputed, but it is estimated that over 700,000 Arabs fled the new Jewish homeland and went to the Arab areas of Palestine (mostly West Bank and Gaza), and also to Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan, among other places.

Today, sixty-five years later, we still hear about Palestinian refugees - people who are the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the original refugees.  For political reasons, they continue to claim refugee status.  No Arab countries will take them in as citizens while they languish in various refugee camps and neighborhoods.

What we do not often hear about today is the 850,000-1,000,000 Jewish people who were forced out of the surrounding Arab countries beginning in 1948.  Many of them had been in their respective countries for over twenty centuries, pre-dating Islam and Christianity.  For example, Iraq had had a significant Jewish population since the Babylonian exile of 586 BC.  It is estimated that in 1948, there were 135,000 Jews in Iraq.  Today, that number is virtually zero.


For a little perspective, here is a list of estimated Jewish populations in some of the other surrounding Arab countries; pre-1948 versus today:
  • Syria and Lebanon:  30,000/Virtually none
  • Egypt:  100,000/Less than 100
  • Libya:  38,000/0
  • Yemen:  63,000/Less than 250
  • Algeria:  140,000/Less than 100
  • Morocco:  265,000/3,000-4,000
  • Tunisia:  105,000/1500
Most of these people were forced to leave because of severe persecution that escalated in 1948.  They left with the clothes on their backs and if lucky, a small suitcase.  It is estimated that the property value that was confiscated or abandoned by these Jewish refugees is $300 billion in today's money.  The land that they vacated is estimated to be almost five times the size of the state of Israel.  The UN provided them with exactly zero dollars in aid, as opposed to the over $50 billion dollars that has been given to the Palestinian Arab refugees and their descendants.

So why don't we hear much about these folks?  Perhaps it is because they refused to cling to the label "refugees."  They didn't foster the victim mentality amongst themselves... they moved on with their lives.

The disturbing thing is that these Muslim countries are now doing the same thing to their Christian populations.  There is a saying in Islam: "First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people."  In other words, first the Jews, and then the Christians.  And that is exactly what we have been seeing.  The Jewish people are virtually gone from these countries, and the persecution of the Christians is heating up. 

The Arabic reads, "On Saturday we kill the Jews, and on Sunday we kill the Christians."
Revelation 12 talks about this.  The woman represents Israel.  In verses 6 and 14, she is led to a place of safety in the wilderness.  Verse 17 speaks of the dragon's frustration, and then his subsequent target:  And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

First the Jews, and then the Christians.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Matthew 18, the Offenders, and the Offended

There is a phrase in the middle of Matthew 18 that people love to use in their prayer meetings.

It's verse 20:  "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

It is a nice sentiment, and it is not an untrue statement, but in this context, it has absolutely nothing to do with His presence in our corporate prayer meetings.

The entire chapter of Matthew 18 deals with offenses.  Starting in verse 15, we are given the proper procedure within the assembly for dealing with offenses against each other.  The first step is for the offended one to confront the offender.  The next step is to bring two or three along so that witnesses can be established, and then if that doesn't work, the matter is to be brought before the congregational assembly - the ekklesia.



Yeshua is reaffirming the procedure which had already been given in Deuteronomy 19:15-19 for dealing with matters of sin:  One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.  If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing,  then both men in the controversy shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days.  And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother,  then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you.

Our American judicial system is based on this premise  – one person, as a sole witness, cannot rise up and accuse you of something and send you to the gallows on his testimony alone.  Verse 19 of Matthew 18 reaffirms the Deutoronomic requirement for two or three witnesses to establish a matter, so that someone’s life isn’t ruined by false accusation. 

Thus, we have the result of binding and loosing, which is simply a Jewish idiom for allowing or not allowing.  Verse 18 says “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."  Put in our terms, this means that if obeyed and done properly, the blessing of the Lord is given to the process of judgment. 



For example, when 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 talks about judging within the congregation and putting out the the wicked from among them, it is assumed that the proper procedure from Matthew 18 (and Deuteronomy 19) would have been followed by the leadership.
 
In the same context, Peter then asks how many times he must forgive in regards to sinning against one another.  (Perhaps he's thinking, "cause I’m at number 6 and I’ve already hired a hit man for this dude that's ticking me off).  Not seven times, but 77 times, says Yeshua.  The text changes to the offended, and not the sinner.  Yes, they might haved kicked the offender out of the fellowship, but you gotta forgive him anyway.  The text then goes right into the story of the unmerciful servant who would not show forgiveness to his perpetrator.  The whole passage is beautifully connected!
 
So anyway, I guess it isn't a horrible thing to announce in your prayer meeting that wherever two or more are gathered, He is among you there.  Of course He is... duh.  Just like He is with the person who obeys the directive in Matthew 6:6 - But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
 


 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Living in the End Times... How Can We Know?

Yes, I know - people have been saying the Lord is returning soon ever since He went back to His Father, nearly two thousand years ago. So how can anyone really know that the time is near?

The Word gives us many clues.  And all we have to do is look around us to see those things taking place right under our very noses.

Although there are many more than this, I will focus on three different Biblical reasons why we can believe that Yeshua is returning very, very soon.

 

1.  The Pattern of Seven

This pattern shows up over and over in the Word.  In Genesis, God created the world in six days, and rested on the seventh.  Seven means completeness.  Human history has been around for 6000 years (although there are many who would dispute this, even in the church).  There were about two thousand years from Adam to Abraham, about two thousand years from Abraham to the Messiah, and about two thousand years from the Messiah to now.  Revelation talks about a millenium of peace that the Messiah will set up here on Earth when He returns - could this be our Sabbath Millenium?



In Revelation, God gave us the letters to the Seven Churches.  These letters are not just instruction to those seven actual churches in Asia Minor.  They are a prophetic picture of the age we are now in.  The churches, in order, line up with church history, from the end of Acts to the present.  Right now, we are on the cusp of Philadelphia/Laodicea.  (For more information on the Seven Churches, feel free to click on the "Seven Churches" label to the right.

There are also seven feasts (appointed times) of the Lord, which are outlined in Leviticus 23.  The Messiah has fulfilled the first four with His first coming:  Passover with His death, Unleavened Bread with His Burial, Firstfruits with His resurrection, and Shavuot (Pentecost) when He sent the Holy Spirit.  The "long, hot summer" between the Feasts is the time period we are now in - the church age, in which the gospel is offered to the nations.  He will return to fulfill Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets, aka Rosh Hashanah), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). 



Interestingly, Yom Teruah is the feast known as "no man knows the day or the hour," because the priests had to search for the new moon.  (The other six feasts take place later in the lunar month when the moon is visible). Without knowing the Jewish roots of this expression, people today get all whipped up over "date-setting." Luke 21:7 says, "So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?”  And Yeshua proceeded to explain to them all the signs that will precede the end of the age.

 

2.  The Increase of Knowledge

Daniel 12:4 says, “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” 

Is that true today, or what?  The beginning of the industrial age was marked by the invention of the steam engine in the 1700s.  From there, we progressed to all manner of machines and inventions, leading right up to the current information age.  Google gives us any factoid we want to know, right at our fingertips.  It is easy to look at modern history and see how knowledge has increased exponentially.  I find it interesting that the bicycle, the car, and the airplane were invented all within a few decades of each other. 

 

3.  The Modern State of Israel

This one is my favorite. 

No other sign shows God's power and faithfulness better than His miraculous regathering of the exiles from all over the Earth.   No people group has ever been able to maintain their identity once expelled from their homeland the way the Jewish people have.  Especially when so many in history have tried to hard to annihilate them!

The Palestine Post, founded in 1932, was re-named The Jerusalem Post in 1950

The Jewish people experienced two expulsions from the land that was promised to Abraham as an everlasting possession in Genesis 17:7 (and later confirmed to both Isaac and Jacob).  The first dispersion was due to idolatry and disobedience to the Moses covenant made at Sinai.  They were sent to Babylon, remained there for 70 years, and were then sent back by King Cyrus - just as Isaiah had prophesied many years earlier.

The second expulsion happened because the Jewish leaders rejected Yeshua as Israel's Messiah; thereby leading many of their people astray.  The temple was destroyed in 70 AD (forty years after the death and resurrection of the Messiah) and the Jewish people were scattered, not just to Babylon, but to the four corners of the Earth.

Some of the early church fathers didn't know what to make of this.  They developed "Replacement Theology," which says that the Church replaced Israel in God's plan; that God is done with Israel for good.  And for many centuries, it may have seemed that way to them, since the Jews were no longer in their homeland.  But to cling to this theology, they needed to either ignore or allegorize so many scriptures.  Here are a few examples (and there are many, many more):

Isaiah 41:9
You [Israel] whom I [God] have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from its farthest regions,
And said to you,
‘You are My servant,
I have chosen you and have not cast you away...

 
Jeremiah 31:37
Thus says the Lord:
“If heaven above can be measured,
And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,
I will also cast off all the seed of Israel
For all that they have done," says the Lord.
 
Isaiah 14:1
For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land. The strangers will be joined with them, and they will cling to the house of Jacob.
 
Amos 9:14-15
I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
 I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.


Joel 2:18-19
Then the Lord will be zealous for His land,
And pity His people.
The Lord will answer and say to His people,
“Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil,
And you will be satisfied by them;
I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations.
 
Romans 11:1
I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I [Paul] also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
 
Here's the thing.  God made an unconditional covenant with Abraham, and it is not in His nature to go back on that promise.  Israel was not permanantly rejected.  Just as fathers discipline their children out of love and necessity, so too does God discipline his Chosen People.  Rather than viewing Israel as accursed, Christians should regard Israel as siblings.  We need to understand the Father's heart of love regarding his Prodigal Son, and not become arrogant like the older brother.
 
I have digressed a little here, but the fact that the State of Israel was born in 1948 shows us that God's plan is rapidly moving forward.  Then in 1967, Israel once again regained control over the holy city of Jerusalem, for the first time in thousands of years.  The last days are centered on Jerusalem!
 
Satan is hard at work to see that Israel does not succeed as a nation, because he knows that his time is very short.  The fact that the international media spends an inordinate amount of time on every little thing that goes on in the tiny State of Israel - that is about 1/8 the size of Florida - further emphasizes that this is a spiritual battle.
 
This battle will culminate when the Lord returns and the nation of Israel receives her Messiah once and for all.
 
Zechariah 12:10 says, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. 
 
 
 
And Romans 11:26-27 says, And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written [in Isaiah 59:20-21],
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”
 
We as gentile believers were once "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise" (Ephesians 2:12), but are now "grafted in, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree" (Romans 11:17).

God's plan is centered on the people of Israel, and so as we look for the return of the Lord, it is wise for believers to pay close attention to, and pray for, Israel in these last days. 
 
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
May they prosper who love you.
Psalm 122:6