I have stood on the first-century road where Jesus entered the Temple Mount. It changed me. I don’t know how to write this week without talking about the current events in Israel. Many of you within the ministry have traveled to the Holy Land either with North Coast or another tour group and experienced the power of seeing the Bible go from black & white to color.
From the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem to the Mount of Beatitudes and the Sea of Galilee, it is clear that the land of Israel is important to Christianity due to the fact that this is where Jesus was born, lived and died. The stories of the Bible took place here. Jesus’ ministry and miracles mark almost every territory of this land.
But there is so much more.
We need to understand that Israel is the key to understanding God’s love, purpose, and desire for humanity. He has established Israel to convey His love for all people. He has ordained Israel to bring His Word and the Messiah to Jewish and non-Jewish people. And He charged Gentile Christians with winning their Jewish brothers and sisters back to the God of their fathers.
If God cares about something, or someone, Christians should too. When believers understand that Israel is all about Him and His love for us, then we can be nothing but heartbroken at the events of the past week.
The number of Christians today who disregard and dismiss Israel, who consider God’s promises to her as irrelevant is growing. Here are three reasons that solidify why every Christian should care deeply about this nation, the land of Israel, and this tribe – the people of Israel:
God’s Covenant with Abraham
The primary and arguably the most compelling reason why we should care about Israel is because of a covenant. This irrevocable bond between two parties, in this case between God and the descendants of Abraham, is directly related to us.
Consider Israel as a microcosm of all mankind. How God speaks, relates to, and deals with Israel is a pattern for how He speaks, relates to, and deals with the rest of the world.
Israel was chosen by God for a purpose, to be a blessing to the nations. He makes this very clear.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12:3).
Abraham is often referred to as the “Father of Faith.” God made bold promises to give him a son, to bless him, and to give him substantial land. He also promised to make him the father of many nations that would be blessed through him and that even kings would proceed from his lineage. God changed his name from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of a multitude), reflecting the magnitude of this promise.
But there was a problem. Abram and his wife had no child. No heritage that could produce future kings, nations, or multitudes. Sarah was barren. God’s promises must have been encouraging, yet Abraham’s reality stood as the testing ground for God’s faithfulness. Abram reminded the Lord, “I continue childless” for “you have given me no offspring” (Gen 15:2-3).
God’s promise to give Abraham and Sarah a “seed” in their old age took 25 years (Gen 12:4, 21:5). Even once Isaac was born, it would be 40 years until he married Rebekah, and another 20 years before she conceived Jacob and Esau (Gen 25:20, 26). By then Abraham was 160 years old. It took 85 years of waiting for Abraham to see the next generation of his promised seed!
The promise that kings would come from Abraham’s lineage came to pass some 400 years later. The promise of land lingered in prophetic tension for generations. The promise that all nations would be blessed through Abraham’s seed is still in the process of being fulfilled.
However, God was very clear about His promises toward Israel.
I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’
I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right (Isaiah 45:19)
Although dashed hopes and deferred promises are present throughout Israel’s history, remembrance of God’s promises is deep in her story, keeping hope alive.
This is essentially one of the functions of the Hebrew Scriptures. They are a chronicle of hope for a people – hope in a God who has proven time and again to be faithful to His promises.
As we examine the Old Testament, also known as the Hebrew Scriptures, we witness failure after failure on Israel’s part. They continually failed at keeping their end of the deal. Israelites did not keep the commandments God ordained. They exhibited time and again a refusal to obey Him.
What does God do about this unfaithfulness? He gives them another chance. And another. He disciplines Israel, then reiterates His love, expectation, and desire for them. (Sound familiar?)
The love story between God and Israel helps us grasp the character of God. As we learn of His enduring compassion and mercy towards His people, we better understand His compassion and mercy towards us. We also witness His standards and guidelines for how to live.
In spite of the repeated failings of Israel, there remains a plan and purpose for this nation.
Despite the failings in my life and in your life, there remains a plan and a purpose for each of us. Man’s lack of faith thankfully does not nullify the faithfulness of God.
Spiritual inheritance through the Jewish people
Our second tie to Israel is the spiritual connection all believers have to the land and the people of Israel.
As the birthplace of the Christian faith, followers of Jesus are drawn to visit Israel because they want to see and experience locations where much of Scripture took place. As I mentioned earlier, walking where Jesus walked, or Samson, or David brings the Bible to life. It changed the black & white text to color. When you hear or read the story of David and Goliath you immediately see the Valley of Elah and picture the young boy fighting the giant among the rolling hills.
Being able to visit the places where Jesus lived, and where He will return provides believers with a tangible connection to God. It gives us a more intimate understanding of Scripture.
While visiting the land and studying the Bible, many Christians recognize there is a certain indebtedness related to the Jewish People. Consider that through the Jewish People, we have the message of the prophets, the Scriptures, and the Messiah. Many Jewish People throughout history have given or risked their lives for the Word of God to continue to spread.
When we traveled to Israel, we were with an Israeli guide named Ronen. As he took us to the various Biblical sites, I was struck by the volume of his biblical knowledge. He knew the stories as well as any Christian I knew. He showed honor for the sites and told us both the biblical and the historical significance of each place.
This awareness evoked a sense of humility and gratitude towards Israel and its people for preserving our Christian history. It prompted an affectionate love for our Jewish brothers and sisters. And it should propel us to express that love by praying for and seeking ways to stand with them.
The Restoration of Israel
Beyond just caring for and about the Jewish people, generally speaking, believers are called to provoke the Jewish people to godly jealousy. Hang with me here …
In Roman 11:11, Paul says, “Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.”
In the same manner in which God is jealous for us and desires our committed love, so is the heart of a Jewish person pierced when they witness the relationship a believer has with God. Maybe even when they witness the believer’s knowledge of Scripture.
It is through the love of God, and loving and honoring His people, that the flames of Jewish revival will come. This is a responsibility that Gentile believers carry, one that has been entrusted to them by God.
The Apostle Paul shares that Israel’s collective salvation will result in a blessing for the whole world:
Now, I speak to you who are not Jewish, since I am an apostle to reach the non-Jewish people. And I draw attention to this ministry as much as I can when I am among the Jews, hoping to make them jealous of what God has given to those who are not Jews, winning some of my people to salvation. For if their temporary rejection released the reconciling power of grace into the world, what will happen when Israel is reinstated and reconciled to God? It will unleash resurrection power throughout the whole earth! (Romans 11:13-15)
There is a unique parallel between the restoration of the Church and the salvation of Israel; the blessings of Gentile and Jew are reciprocal. This is abundantly evident in Israel’s story.
A Vision of Hope: Israel
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, is laden with grief and the devastation of loss. Yet through the power of remembrance, it also carries a weighty revelation about hope.
It is a sobering experience—honoring, emotional, infuriating, horrific, beautifully insightful, and absolutely essential to understanding Israel’s multifaceted history.
Toward the end of the memorial is an exhibit with footage and photos of concentration camps when they were at last liberated. These images document barracks, soldiers, mass graves, and inmates at the first moments of liberation.
More than 6 million Jews perished in the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust and with them countless future generations. Yet today, millions of the seed of Abraham, and many others, walk the streets of what was the hope of Jewish people throughout the years – Israel, the Jewish homeland.
Generations of prophets foreshadowed these days. Families throughout the centuries yearned for the restoration of Israel. It seemed impossible. Hope was dim. Israel had not been a sovereign authority since Judah fell to Babylon around 586 B.C.
Over 600 years later, after Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples asked Yeshua if He would restore the kingdom to Israel. He replied, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in his own authority” (Acts 1:7).
Nearly 2,000 years slipped by until 1948 when a sovereign Israel came back on the scene, about 2,534 years after the first Kingdom of Israel dissolved.
The distant sound of unresolved hope echoed for two and a half millennia, but eventually, in the appointed time, prophetic hope was indeed fulfilled. The promises and prayers of generations were fulfilled as God’s covenant promises to Abraham were realized.
Hope is vital to Israel’s miraculous story. Hatikvah (Hebrew for “The Hope”) is a 19th-century Jewish poem and the national anthem of Israel. It is the bold declaration of generations for a nation reborn from the ashes.
“Our hope is not yet lost, it is two thousand years old, to be a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.”
Throughout Israel’s story, even through deep wells of grief and suffering, God has masterfully preserved the seed of Abraham.
God brought Israel out of Egypt, established them in their land, rescued them in battle, preserved them in exile, rebirthed a nation from the ashes of the Holocaust, and remained faithful to His promises to bring them home. They remain His chosen people.
Regardless of our personal views concerning Israel’s politics, military, and regional relationships, we cannot deny the simple reality that Israel is the fruition of generations of hope. A vision of God’s faithfulness. And, we as Christians, will always be tied to the land and her people.
For God and you,
Single’s Ministry Blogger