Prayers at the Western Wall (Wailing Wall)
Israel has been the subject of false teaching and unbiblical thinking among professing Christians since the time of the church fathers, so called, and the invention of Replacement Theology and the subsequent sad history of persecution of Jews by professing Christians. These heresies were subsumed by the Roman Catholic Church and were part of the heretical baggage that was brought out of Rome by many Protestants. Luther did not get his ideas about burning synagogues from Scripture rightly divided.
I have been amazed and saddened in recent days to learn of a growing (though small) movement among fundamental Baptists to adopt the ancient heresy of Replacement Theology.
I love Israel, and I love Israel because I love the Bible. I don’t love Israel because I am a “Christian Zionist” or because of the Scofield Bible or Darby Dispensationalism. I love Israel because the Bible teaches me to love Israel.
I love Israel because Jehovah God loves Israel and says, “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, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 31:37).
The Lord Jesus taught me to love Israel when He wept over her on the eve of His crucifixion (Luke 19:41) and said on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34), and when He rose from the dead and commanded that the gospel be preached “among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).
The apostle Paul taught me to love Israel by his great Christlike love for her even in her rebellious, gospel-rejecting condition (Romans 10:1-4) and by his lifelong ministry to Israel even in the face of her stubborn persecution of the gospel (16 times in Acts we read about his preaching in the synagogues) and by his teaching that the gospel is for the “Jew first” (Romans 1:16).
I love Israel’s past, present, and future. I have studied Israel for 44 years, since I was saved, primarily by studying the Bible, but I have also studied every aspect of Israel from a great many sources. I’m not an expert on Israel, but I am a serious student of Israel. I have read and skimmed a couple hundred books about Israel, and I have published many books of my own about Israel. I’ve studied Israel in museums and other locations in America, England, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Greece, Jordan, and Turkey. I have studied her history, her laws, her prophecies, her enemies, her topography, her climate past and present, her people, her culture, her archaeology, her Diaspora. I have studied the Talmud, Zionism, the kibbutzim, the Rothschilds, Israel’s modern wars, her military, her leaders, her development, her ingenuity, her technology. I have studied her rebellion against God, her stubbornness as denounced by her own prophets, her amazing rejection of her own Messiah. I have studied Israel on the ground multiple times, from the Red Sea to Mt. Hermon. I have traveled the entire length of the Jordan River, taken a boat entirely around the Sea of Galilee, observed the Plain of Megiddo from a hot air balloon, and gone to many places where tourists rarely or never go, including Mt. Meron, Jezreel, Mt. Gerizim, Eglon, Gath, Ashkelon, Shiloh, Timna, Eilat, the Scorpion Ascent, Zin, Yodfat, Harod spring, the Elah Valley, Shaaraim, Ziklag, Gibeon, Bethpage, Anathot, Mt. Gilboa, Nain, Endor, Shunem, Gezer, Mt. Arbel, Tabgha, Katzrin, Dor, Bet Shearim, Avdat, Tel Sheva, Garar, Lachish, Maresha, Machpelah, Jericho, Mt. Tabor, and Ein Gev. I’ve interviewed Netafim engineers and Biobee representatives, toured banana, mango, and dairy farms, visited many of the kibbutzim and a great number of Israel’s museums.
I know that Israel is still in rebellion against God just as surely as when Jeremiah preached 2,600 years ago, but I love Israel and look forward to her salvation.
I know that Israel was at the forefront of the death of Christ, that the Jewish leaders pressed Pilate to crucify Him, but I love Israel and look forward to the day when a remnant will look on him “whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his own son” (Zechariah 12:10).
I know that rabbinic Judaism is a false religion, but I love Israel and look forward to the day that she will turn from these broken cisterns to the life-giving words of the living God. I have studied the Talmud and Kabbalah and world history and Jewish history and American history and Hasidic Judaism and Nachman and the Na Nach movement and Schneerson and the Chabad movement. I have studied all sorts of conspiracy theories. I have studied the history of false Jewish Messiahs. I have been to Mt. Meron and observed the occultic Kabbalah rituals at the tombs of the rabbis. I have seen images of the pagan Zodiac and the Greek sun god on the floors of ancient synagogues. We have witnessed to atheist Jews and homosexual Jews. We know that Israel is a hotbed of relativistic morality, a mecca for “gays,” that the Israel Defense Force (IDF) is a proving ground for transsexual rights.
I know how terribly lost Israel is today, but neither history nor current events nor Israel’s apostasy nor the Bible teach that God is finished with Israel or that Israel today is not Israel or that the church is Israel.
As a born again believer in Jesus Christ, I am a son of Abraham by faith, but I am not a son of Jacob. And it is Jacob who will be saved and restored (Isaiah 59:20).
I know that modern Israel is not the fulfillment of the kingdom prophecies, that modern Israel is an unrighteous secular state, but I love Israel and look forward to when the desert shall blossom as a rose as a divine miracle and not as a result of drip irrigation (Isaiah 35:1) and sorrow and sighing shall flee away (Isaiah 35:10) and the Branch of righteousness will reign over a righteous Israel as the capital of His world kingdom (Jeremiah 23:5).
I would not join “Christian Zionists” in giving one dime toward the Temple Institute’s program to build the Third Temple, knowing that it will be occupied by the Antichrist rather than the Christ, but I love Israel and am fascinated by the fulfillment of prophecy before my very eyes in these preparations.
It is impossible for me not to see the hand of God in modern Israel, in her partial return after 2,000 years of wandering among the nations, in the resurrection of her ancient language, in the winning of her wars against all odds, in the development of the land in the face of great and continual difficulties and almost worldwide opposition.
To understand modern Israel, I turn to the great prophecy of Ezekiel 37, which teaches that Israel will return from her Diaspora, which is described in terms of a valley of death, in two stages, and in the first stage she will return in a spiritually dead condition (verses 7-10). Verse 8 says, “... lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: BUT THERE WAS NO BREATH IN THEM.”
This is exactly what Israel is today and where Israel is today prophetically.
Modern Israel is setting the stage for the fulfillment of the last stage of Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 Weeks (Da. 9:24-27), which describes the entirety of God’s dealings with Israel from the time of the Babylonian Captivity to the second coming of Christ. The prophecy is specifically said to pertain to Daniel’s people, Israel, and it is specifically said to describe the finishing of Israel’s transgression, the making of reconciliation for her iniquity, and the bringing in of everlasting righteousness, which will begin with Christ’s return (verse 24). By this prophecy we know that one prophetic week of seven years remains of God’s final dealings with Israel, and at the beginning of that week the antichrist will arise and make a seven-year covenant with many in Israel and half way through the seven years, he will break the covenant and desecrate the third temple and cause the renewed sacrifices to cease, which will initiate the last half of the seven years, which is called the Great Tribulation in the New Testament (Matthew 24:15-22).
Modern Israel is setting the stage for these events. She is back in her own land, having partially returned from the nations. She is preparing for the building of the third temple. She is looking for a peace-making, temple-building Messiah, which is a perfect definition of the antichrist at the beginning of his reign.
When I visit Israel, I feel as if the whole place is just vibrating, as it were, in anticipation of the fulfillment of prophecy.
The stage is set!
2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 explains why the 70th Week of Daniel’s prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, and it has to do with God’s great love for sinners. The one who withholds the devil’s “mystery of iniquity” program to put the antichrist on the throne of the world is a Person. The one who withholds is twice called “he” in verse 7. This is none other than the Holy Spirit, who came into the world to empower the saints for world evangelism during the church age as described in Acts 1:8 and who will be “taken out of the way” in the sense of the lifting of His present restraining ministry toward the devil’s program. The Holy Spirit is omniscient and has always been in the world and cannot leave the world, but Paul is talking about a particular ministry of the Holy Spirit during the church age.
Why is God waiting? Peter explains. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God continues to call out a people from the nations for His name (Acts 15:14).
I love Israel. I am sad at her stubborn rejection of God’s Word, but I look forward to her conversion and beyond to ruling and reigning with the redeemed of Israel in Christ’s millennial kingdom and beyond that, in the New Jerusalem, the gates of which are named for the twelve tribes of Israel and the foundations of the wall of which are named for the twelve apostles of the church (Revelation 21:12-14).
The church and Israel are different bodies and different programs in God’s great eternal plan, but they are closely associated in that they have the same father, Abraham, and the same Saviour, Jesus Christ, and they will live forever in the same City.
For a review of and refutation of Steven Anderson’s Marching to Zion and Matt Furse’s Who Is Israel? see the free eBook What about Steven Anderson?
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