Dear friend in the Messiah,
Shalom from New York City! We are celebrating Israel’s 70th birthday this month. The State of Israel was founded on May 14, 1948, and President Harry Truman recognized the creation of the modern State of Israel that very day! I genuinely believe that one of the reasons God has blessed the United States is because of our support for Israel.
This blessing harkens back to the day God called Abram out of the land of the Chaldees. The Lord promised Abram that one day he would be the father of multitudes and that the people God would miraculously create would be granted a land and a mission to bring blessings to the nations of the world.
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which
I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and
I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you
I will curse.And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
This passage of Scripture is often entitled the Abrahamic Covenant. But, it is also a prophecy, as these verses span the course of human history! It is as if the story of Scripture is embedded in this short passage.
The promise presumes that the world needs blessing and that God Himself must take the initiative to bring these blessings about. Nine chapters earlier in the book of Genesis, Moses records the fall of humanity, almost immediately after the creation of Adam and Eve. The perfect existence of this first couple was destroyed when they responded in disobedience to God after being tempted by the serpent. God promises in Genesis 3:15 that this serpent would one day be destroyed by the “son of the woman.”
The Lord also predicted in this passage that there would be enmity between the seed of the woman—all humanity—and the serpent. The Hebrew word evah (הבֵיאָ) for enmity, which may also be translated as “hostility,” is used to describe the ongoing relationship through the ages between humanity and the “evil one.” The hostility would end when the promised descendant of the woman would crush the head of the devil, destroying his power in the one climatic event that took place at the cross.
The Jewish People and the Plan of God
The story of the Jewish people is the story of redemption. God chose Abram and his descendants to one day produce this glorious seed of the woman who would die for the sins of humanity, rise from the dead, and at the same time destroy the works of the devil. The remainder of human history is the unfolding of the results of this one sacrificial act of redeeming love on God’s part.
The Jewish people were called by God to play a critical role in the working out of this unfolding story of redemption. God chose the Jewish people to be His bridge of redemption to a dark world broken by sin and death.
Mark Yarbrough, the Dean of Students at Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote a chapter for our new book, Israel, the Church and the Middle East: A Biblical Response to the Current Conflict. He writes,
The major character in the grand story of Scripture is a people, the nation of Israel. The story of scripture is thoroughly Jewish. To de-emphasize or omit this part of the story is to misunderstand the covenants and the manner in which God blesses all people through his Messiah. He does this by promises to the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. Just think about it. How can the grand story of the Bible be presented without its Jewish context? The entirety of the Old Testament is centered around this unfolding story.
Your Mission to the Jewish People has worked together again with Kregel Publications to produce this new book in honor of Israel’s 70th anniversary! This new volume of more than a dozen essays will enrich your faith, teach you more about God’s plan for Israel in the Bible, and will equip you to better evaluate current events in the Middle East.
Back to our story! God promised Abram a people, a land, a mission, and the promise of an ongoing relationship with the Creator. Unfortunately, the same devil who tried to ruin what God created has also attempted to prevent this story of redemption from coming to pass. Jewish history is the story of the devil’s efforts to use the Gentile nations to destroy the Jewish people.
Yet, the Lord used the Jewish people to compose and transmit the Scriptures to the world and in the fullness of time to bring the Savior to His creation through a Jewish family! The devil again tried to prevent the birth of the Messiah as Pharaoh attempted to kill baby Moses. Yet, God protected Moses and his son and, in the same way, has faithfully preserved the Jewish people. Against all odds, the Jewish people have survived Crusades, Pogroms, the Holocaust, incessant attacks by hostile Middle Eastern neighbors, as well as the rise of modern antisemitism.
Israel: A Modern Miracle
Now we have the privilege of observing a modern miracle and testimony to God’s faithfulness—the creation of the modern State of Israel. The Lord has brought back the captives of Zion from the four corners of the earth, overturning all efforts to prevent the Jewish people from returning to the Promised Land.
The Abrahamic Covenant is in fact a prophecy that speaks of God’s enduring love for the people He created and called! The Jewish people and the modern State of Israel bear witness to the faithfulness of God. And if this is true today, just think of what is going to happen tomorrow! The Messiah will return in His glory to take back the world He created and restore the planet and the people He so loved.
Israel still has a role to play in preparing the way for the second coming of Jesus. The Apostle Paul promises that the Lord will one day turn His chosen people to Himself:
Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, HE will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” (Romans 11:12,15, 25-26)
These words of Paul should not surprise us, as Ezekiel predicted these events hundreds of year before.
For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:24-27)
The prophet adds what has become one of my favorite promises of Scripture,
“They will say, This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.’” (Ezekiel 36:35)
We know what is ahead because God always keeps His promises. Therefore, how should we approach our relationships to our Jewish friends and family? The Apostle Paul again provides us with divine wisdom and charts a path for every believer worldwide to focus upon until we see Him face to face. We are to preach the gospel—to the Jew first and also to the Gentile! The conclusion to the story is yet ahead, but we too have a role to play. As Paul writes,
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15)
Our piece of the puzzle is to tell this glorious story of redemption to all, especially to the Jewish people who play such a critical role in the story. Would you join us in proclaiming the Good News to the Jewish people? There is a lot more in the newsletter about what God is doing, especially among young Israelis in Israel and as they travel abroad to beautiful New Zealand, Germany, and North America. I know you will enjoy this issue!
Thanks for joining me in thanking God for His faithfulness to His promises in wishing Israel a Happy 70th!
Your brother in the Messiah,
P.S. You can order the new book, Israel, the Church and the Middle East: A Biblical Response to the Current Conflict, by filling out the enclosed card, or by ordering online at our Chosen People Ministries bookstore (chosenpeople.com/store). We will provide free shipping and handling as a thank you for your gift this month of any amount. We deeply appreciate your faithful prayers and support.
Mark M. Yarbrough, “Israel and the Story of the Bible,” Israel, the Church and the Middle East (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2018), p.54