By Wayne Stewart, The Palestine (Tx) Herald-Press
In many churches today the significance of prophecy and the role Israel plays in God’s plan is not taught. End-times prophecy is thought of as scary and cryptic by many people. The truth of the matter is, if you have not accepted Christ as your personal savior, then end-times prophecy should scare you. The fear people feel when it is discussed is the Holy Spirit’s way of saying Christ’s return is imminent and it’s time to get affairs in order.
There are some who feel Israel no longer plays a part in God’s plan. They will cite certain verses in the New Testament they say point to this. For every verse they single out, there’s an entire Bible screaming it isn’t true; even the apostle Paul said it isn’t the case.
I ask then, Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah — how he appealed to God against Israel: ’Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left and they are trying to kill me? And what was God’s answer to him? I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal Romans 11:1-4.
Paul said God has reserved a remnant from Israel that he will rescue in the end. We gentiles have been grafted into the root of Israel by acceptance of Christ; we have been given the Gospel. We are a part of Israel, but we are not the apple of God’s eye. Still, our fate is tied with Israel.
“Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. Be still before the Lord, all mankind because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” Zechariah 2:10-13.
Even though we are a part of God’s redemptive plan, the language is clear: He is choosing Judah as His portion and Jerusalem will serve as His throne.
The prophecy at the end still center’s around Israel and its final battle, the rest of the world is arrayed against it, and through God’s intervention, Judah and Jerusalem prevail in the final battle, Armageddon.
“The Lord will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem’s inhabitants may not be greater that that of Judah. On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the Angel of the Lord going before them. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.” Zechariah 12:7-9.
Then, our Blessed Hope returns.
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” Zechariah 12:10.
Read this passage and understand, this is Christ (God) talking to Zechariah 400-plus years before his advent here on earth. At the moment of Christ’s return and Israel’s salvation, those left in Israel will know He is the Messiah and they will grieve because they denied Him and put Him to death.
Before his return, after the church is Raptured, those left behind who come to accept Christ will be refined by fire through the tribulation. Most of the people of Israel will have been killed and most of those who have come to believe in Christ during that time will have been put to death. There will be very few Believers left and the Jews will be few in number, but they are God’s Chosen People just as they have been since Abraham found favor with God. God’s promises are binding for eternity.
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.” Zechariah 8:7-8.
Then again, God says he is singling them out.
“Though I scatter them among the peoples, yet in distant lands they will remember me. They and their children will survive, and they will return.” Zechariah 10:9.
Israel is the key. As Paul said, in Israel’s rejection of Christ the gentiles were able to have the Word given to them.
“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. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness brings!” Romans 11:11-12.
What’s Paul saying here? Let’s look at the American example. This country was founded on Christian principles (don’t let anybody deceive you into believing it was not.) Ours was a country dedicated to living a life pleasing to God and we were richly blessed for it, though we have now rejected God and those blessings are quickly being removed.
Who are we descended from? God’s enemies, yet because we believed that His Sons death paid for our sins and His resurrection gives us the promise of eternal life, we were blessed mightily.
Then what of God’s chosen people who turn to Christ? To them will be given the keys of the kingdom, so to speak. Remember, they are God’s Chosen People. Again and again Israel is the center of God’s end-times prophecies. We are arrogant above all things if we believe we are chosen by God before the Jews. We live in the period of grace. It is by faith that we are saved, faith in Christ, that he bore the penalty for our sins. This period of grace is quickly coming to a close and the time of the gentiles will be over.
In Revelations, Israel is chosen as God’s People and Jerusalem, His city; the names of the twelve tribes of Israel will be placed on the gates around the New Jerusalem.
Don’t fall for replacement theology. It is not the gentiles’ destiny to replace the Jews, but to share with them Christ’s redemption which we received through them.
We are blessed because we have been given the opportunity to take part in God’s redemptive plan, but we must share our glory with Israel. Here I will share two passages of Scripture from Romans chapter 11, verses 25-26 and verses 28-31 that deal with this subject.
“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
“As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they to have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.”
What are we to do? Let others know about the salvation Christ offers. Let people know He is coming soon. Show them the prophecies in the Bible and let them see those signs being fulfilled in the world. Let them pray for Israel and pray that the Jews will come to know Christ. Then look up for Christ’s return.