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Israel at 60

Under increased security that has closed West Bank border crossings, Jewish citizens are recognizing this week 60 years of national re-birth.

They are doing so, however, with an air of uncertainty. The celebration comes on the heels of the largest emergency drill ever held in Israel as the nation tested it’s readiness for ever lingering possibility of regional war.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as saying, “Our entire national existence… depends on our willingness and ability to defend ourselves, to defend our just opinions and our vital interests and to give battle to those who attack us… Your sons and daughters gave their lives for a supreme cause,” he said . “Peace and not war is our ends and the thing we long for.”

Peace based on the military weaponry of Israel and her American ally, however, is not a foregone conclusion. Hundreds of Palestinians together with Arab League sympathizers believe Israel’s return has been at the expense of their own homes and peace.

In previous posts I have expressed concern that we not let what the Bible says about the future detract from an even handed concern for Jewish, Palestinian, and Arab people. I’ve also written about the danger of trying to figure out where we are on God’s calendar. Yet, with those cautions, there are facts we need to keep in mind.

According to the Apostle Paul, a spiritually and physically restored nation of Israel has a future in the plan of God. In the 11th chapter of his first century letter to the Romans he wrote, “Some of the Jews have hard hearts, but this will last only until the complete number of Gentiles comes to Christ” (Rom 11:25). This quote of Paul reminds me of Jesus’ words when he predicted the fall of Jerusalem (70AD), saying, “Jerusalem will be conquered and trampled down by the Gentiles until the age of the Gentiles comes to an end” (Luke 21:24).

Does Israel’s current control of Jerusalem mean that “the age of the Gentiles” has come to an end? Israel was re-established in 1948 by a United Nations Mandate and War of Independence. Almost 20 years later Israeli soldiers captured Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967.

All we need to do, though, is look at the Muslim al-Aqsa Mosque, and the more dominate Dome of the Rock shrine sitting on Israel’s “most holy site,” to see that Jerusalem is still being trampled on by the Gentiles. To avoid further conflict, the Israeli government gave a Muslim council management of what Jewish people call the “Temple Mount” area. The result is that most Jewish people have not set foot on what they regard as Jerusalem’s most holy site.

I think these present conditions seem to fit what the Bible says will eventually happen. I am intrigued with what has been called Ezekiel’s vision of “the valley of the bones” (Ezekiel chapter 37). There the prophet sees a valley of dry bones that slowly come together, muscle, flesh, and skin, before God breathes his breath of life into them.

According to Ezekiel, God’s own explanation is this: Then he [God] said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones — all hope is gone. ‘Now give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the LORD. I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I am the LORD. You will see that I have done everything just as I promised. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (Ezekiel 37:11-15).

So when Prime Minister Olmert says at a national Remembrance Day event, “Our entire national existence… depends on our willingness and ability to defend ourselves.” he isn’t any more correct than if we were to say, Israel’s survival and existence depends on the United States’ commitment to defend Israel at all costs.

The greater truth is actually engraved on a large Israeli Menorah Memorial that stands at the entrance of the Israeli Knesset (government) building. On this menorah are engraved images of the biblical history of Israel and the accompanying words of the prophet Zechariah, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

After 60 years of physical return to their ancestral homeland, the people of Israel, together with the Palestinian people who have been displaced, need to hear what all of us need to hear: Our real existence, security, hope, happiness, and peace is “Not by might, nor by power,” but by the Spirit of the Lord.

The God of the Bible,who has already appeared in the person of his crucified and resurrected Son, will not let Israel, the United States, or any of us as individuals, continue forever to think that we live by our own strength, shrewdness, or security.

Israel’s history, whether from Abraham to the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 AD, or from her rebirth in 1948 until now, is not just about Israel. It is about the God of all nations whose Son and Messiah is accepted at our eternal gain– or rejected at out everlasting loss.

But now let me ask you, if we don’t get caught up in prophetic details that are beyond our ability to be sure about, and if we don’t lose concern for the plight of either Jewish or Palestinian people in the process, can you see how keeping one eye on Israel, is a way of remembering the past and future of the greatest true story ever told?

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10 Responses to “Israel at 60”

  1. hal.fshr says:

    A lengthy blog article filled with great information and important insights. The pictures were especially helpful to illustrate the place that we are talking about. In regard to your question, years ago I gave up being overly preoccupied with Bible prophecy and current events. Too many “last days” predictions fell short of fulfillment to lend credibility to continuing speculation on end times. Although I believe in the Bible’s view of the future, the issues of justice for all peoples,not just the Jews, and trusting in God not man for security should be lifted up. Thanks for the article.

  2. sjd says:

    I was reminded the other day with the forum on Myanmar, how easy it is to become detached from the rest of the world because of the distance we live from some. Out of sight, out of mind. Yet the images in the media bring it right into our homes, but we can choose to turn it off. I probably am guilty of that when it comes to Israel.

    Today I am reminded by your statements that we must not forget Israel’s place in God’s plan. God is not One to change His plans. Although sin entered the world and the original “Garden atmosphere” changed drastically and we are now living under the curse, we see in God’s Word that the “Garden atmosphere” will return in an even greater way, with the New Earth. The reality is that there is nothing that can change God’s purposes. But living away from Israel we can forget those plans He has for them.

    Romans 11 is a great reminder for me to keep an eye on, or at least glances at Israel as time progresses. We see the signs that are there, and it should cause eager anticipation for what is to come, our eternal home, as well as a challenge to enjoy the privilege of sharing the good news with all people no matter what nation they are from. In looking at Ephesians 2 we see now how the Church is able to enjoy relationship with our Lord as His chosen ones, not just true Israel alone.

    Ephesians 2:19-22 (NIV)
    19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,
    20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
    21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
    22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

    Thank you for the reminder of not forgetting about Israel. As I do it helps me keep my vision on Jesus, our privileged relationship now, and His promised return, and our ultimate eternal home where we will enjoy the presence of God with those who have trusted Christ whether from Israel, Iran, Venezuela, USA………….

  3. pegramsdell says:

    The bible says to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I will always do that. They are the chosen generation and I am grafted in with them. I love them and pray for peace and safety for them always, in Jesus’ Name.
    Thank you for reminding me. I enjoy this blog very much.

  4. poohpity says:

    As I read scripture, I am daily reminded of the plight of Israel. I can not even begin to understand, except from our 9/11 attack, how it feels to be constantly on alert from some kind of attack. It does seem however that Israel is still depending on her might rather than on God’s direction. Of course I have no idea what is in their hearts or minds everything I think is speculation about what they are feeling. That little tiny country over there in the middle of everything just fascinates me how it still remains such a thorn in the side of so many. HeeHee

    I do believe however we are not living under the curse but under Grace. Israel started out by not removing the inhabitants of the promised land when they entered as directed by God. We all serve consequences to our disobedience. I know that sounds harsh but when we guide our children not to do something and they do it anyway they have to suffer with consequences.

    It really makes the Bible come alive when you see so many of the directions God gave to the Israelites and what would happen if they did not follow His plan. In the end His will will be accomplished no matter what our plans are.

  5. carloto says:

    just a reminder…the fulfillment of biblical prophecies is solely based on God’s character, His will, and His perfect way and timing, not on cheap current “predictions” that indeed “fall short of fulfillment.” Our hope and our faith should be focused on God alone because He is absolutely trustworthy, and He will accomplish what He said He will…”Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We look at Israel and the world as well as every individual and the current world events through God’s lens and heart. Then, it should even drive us more to strengthen our faith and pin our hope in the Lord; it should compel us to put on God’s love and compassion for the lost, including the people of Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab world and the rest of the world, of whom our Lord Jesus Christ died for. Overwhelming job…but…”not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Our existence as an individual, as a church, and as a nation depends on God alone, our Creator and Author of life. Are we to continue to support the nation of Israel then? By all means, because, i believe, that it is the heart of God when He said, “I will bless the nation that would love Israel.” And at the same time, obeying God’s mandate to share His Gospel and His love to all nations, to the ends of the earth, for “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” While we keep an eye on Israel, we pour out our heart to the world because the gift of Salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is for everyone.

  6. desert rose says:

    AFR (American Family Radio) often discusses Israel and how we need to support them. I forgot that the end of the Gentiles will come to an end. Now that to me is a reminder that all believers need to be looking for opportunities to witness and to increase their prayer time. I wonder if it is right to pray that ‘God would hold back the wickedness so more can be saved?’

    Thank you for this article – isn’t it sad that the age of the Gentiles will come to an end? I am thankful that I know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. It would be real scary not to be a Christian.

    I worked for a Jewish man for 10 years and was amazed that his wife watched the 700 Club. I gave her a Bible Promise Book many years ago. I believe that the Jewish people will be reached and believe that the Messiah is Jesus Christ.

  7. daisymarygoldr says:

    Very awesomely put, Mart! The pics are lovely:)…brings back mem’ries of the days I lived and roamed along those streets and marketplace. The world can clearly see the spirit of God resurrecting the bones of Israel in the valley of her promised land. Even as we are witnessing a global anti-Israel sentiment gaining momentum, there is still much that needs to be fulfilled for the ‘age of the gentiles’ to end.
    In Matt 24, Jesus mentions about ‘the end is not yet’ while referring to Daniel’s vision of the temple that will be rebuilt. Her Arab enemies and their allies lining up against her will have to be crushed (Zechariah 12:2-3)for the ‘Dome of the Rock’ to be replaced by the temple for daily sacrifices to be resumed. The Bible clearly outlines all the painful events that Israel must go through before being delivered by her true Messiah. Though our calendar does not match with God’s, we do keep an eye on Israel whom God has appointed to be a ‘sign’ for the fulfillment of ‘time’.
    However, as Israel pauses to celebrate her 60th anniversary we also join in and rejoice in the goodness of God’s divine provision for her, despite her rebellion and rejection of the savior. Throughout history, God is constantly forgiving her countless faults n’ failures while faithfully keeping the promise that He made with His friend, Abraham. We the followers of Christ are no better than Israel in our relationship with Him. In all our shortcomings/failures to trust and follow Him, we are exhorted to hold fast our faith for He is Faithful that promised and what He has promised He is able also to perform (Rom 4:21)!

  8. lysager says:

    The view of the “Dome of the Rock” and Al Aqsa Mosque remind me that Israel does not need more religion. The Dome of the Rock stands as a testimony to the Islamic history and presence. The wailing wall is the most prominent testimony to the long Jewish history. Both edifices bear witness to the conflict that erected one and destroyed the other. Some Jewish people wait to see the mosque destroyed and build a new temple, with certain Christians excitedly anticipating this future prophetic event. We can look at Israel and see a clear picture of what is wrong and what is right in history and in the world today. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, on His way to being sacrificed as the ultimate and final Passover lamb, He mourned at the lack of faith and rebellion in Israel. The same problem is at work today is Israel. The Jewish people do not need more religion with temples, sacrifices, washings, etc. The Muslims do not need more mosques. Religion is the problem now, just as it was in Jesus’s time here on earth. We and all people in Israel and the world, Jew and Palestinian, need Jesus. He is the One who cancels out religion with its conflict, bloodshed, and self righteousness! He is the bridge between all people; the healer of the nations. Israel is important to show us God’s faithfullness to the Jewish people and all the nations in Christ. He is the sum total of God’s answer to all. I recently received a newsletter from David Brickner of Jews for Jesus. He states they face tough opposition when presenting the Gospel, mainly from the most religious Israelis. He also states that there is great openess to the Gospel mainly with younger mostly secular Israelis. How little things change in over 2000 years. Israel is like a distillation of humanity itself. The good and bad are intensely concentrated. We are foolish not to pay attention and pray for the Peace of Jerusalem to be brought via the Prince of that Peace. Thanks Mart and RBC for all you folks do. God bless.

  9. agapelife says:

    May I suggest you get a copy of “ of Oh Jerusalem”

    I really see what you are saying and really agree somewhat were you are going, but I am concern that we don’t go down a slippery Slope here. It is easly to allow misplaced compassion and false understanding to get in our way.

    For years before and even a little after I became a Christian I was anti Israel. I thought they were the bad guys, in fact that is the way the press, news and lot of the world portrays them

    Then beyond my most wildest dreams, God allowed me to visit Israel not once but three different times.

    After my first visit I became very pro Israel.

    Why? For one because I found they really wanted to live in peace with the Palestinians, before Israel took over Jerusalem, there were a lot of sites no one but the those of Muslim could visit. Israel open it to all, and then protected all the sites, Jewish as well as none Jewish alike.

    If Israel is as mean, or unfair as it most often displayed, then it would have given in to the Jewish extremist and given them control over the site of the Dome of the Rock as well as other sites revered by Jews. Yet Israel has respected the rights of other faiths, Christians, Muslim alike.

    The other thing to point out that when we talk about a Palestinian state, there was never such a thing, for Palestine was controlled by the Greeks, the Romans, the Turks, and then by the British. So to say they have right to Israel or land held by Israel is miss leading.

    Another fact is that you will find that British conspired to help the Hamas take control of Israel after their departure to honor the Union Charter. All this comes out in the book above.

    Israel was attack by four larger nations right after it independence. Yet she prevailed against them. Another book not readily know is called I believe “ the Yon Kipper War” ( Sorry not sure of the spelling)

    As much as I cringe and wonder if the right decision is made by the Israeli government in its dealings with the Palestinians, I remind myself that my country till recently hasn’t been threaten to be wiped off the map. And faced with suicide bombings, and rockets on a regular basis.

    I do not say this condones, eye for eye. Yet Palestinians can easily live in peace with Israel, yet choose not to.

    I can not imagine another country or organization ,that would tell us here in the United States that we could not build on our land our expanded. Did we not take most of the land from the Indians.

    Finally the fact that many Palestinians live in poverty is because they most often won’t due anything with the land they have. They don’t cultivate it, and work the land which Israel has from the time it was formed.

    I know I did not quote verses, or speak of Christ love here. Yet for me to say that is what both sides need to do, I can not till they both realize the problem is they are separated from HIM and both following the wrong idea of the Word of God.

  10. lysager says:

    I personally will read “Oh Jerusalem”. I thought I had previously, but looked it up and I guess not. Thanks for the recommendation.

    I would also point out that there is a significant group that are forgotten all too often. Palestinian Christians are far from a majority in Palestinian controlled areas. They are in a very precarious situation and need our prayers and to know we count them as brothers and sisters in Christ. The radicals in Hamas and similar groups, who hate Israel, make it very difficult for any Palestinians who truly want peace to be heard.

    I saw a program some time back on Day of Discovery that summed up the solution to this, and all conflicts. A Palestinian Christian pastor and a Jewish Christian pastor were brought together on the show. They were as brothers even though they had never met previously. I was really impacted by that program. The most important thing in their lives, Jesus Christ, they had in common. A religion with particular traditions was not the bond, but rather, the person of Jesus. He is the only answer to the conflict. If Christ can melt away the animosity and hatred between two men, He can, and will, do so with nations as well.

    Israel is in an impossible situation which will not be solved by politicians or the military. I love and support Israel. Let us all pray for Messiah Jesus to return and bring the peace we all want for Israel,the Palestinians, and all people!

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