God's Eternal Covenant with Israel
Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the LORD their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the LORD.’ ” Leviticus 26:44-45
The Jewish Nation of Israel
The Jewish nation of Israel is central both to the Bible, and end-times prophesies. (See my blog articles beginning with End-Times Prophesies) In fact, the Jewish nation is central to all of scripture and God’s plan for mankind’s salvation. The nation of Israel is composed of two parts – the Jewish people and the land. They cannot be treated separately. They cannot be divided. Israel is both, the people and the land. So, when I discuss Israel, it encompasses both.
Although the nation of Israel was not formally recognized as a nation by our world governments until 1948, it began hundreds, no thousands of years before. It all began with a single man named Abram. God chose Abram to be his chosen, to be the father of a nation of priests who would in turn show God to a lost and fallen world. Because of that, God made a covenant (an agreement) with Abraham (so renamed by God). The agreement was that He would be his God, and Abraham and his descendants would be His chosen people. They would be a holy people, a nation of priests. Part of the covenant was the gifting of land to Abraham. That same covenant was later confirmed with Abraham’s son Isaac, and then his grandson Jacob.
15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. (NIV)
18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants, I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—
7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. (Jesus Bible)
A Name is Given – Israel
It is through Jacob, that we get the name for the nation of Israel. The scripture tells us that Jacob wrestled with God, and they came out even (let’s just say, God, let him win, while he tested his mettle). After that, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” (NIV)
From a Single Family to a Nation
In time, a great famine affected much of the land, and through various circumstances, Israel (nee Jacob), moved his family to Egypt, where he and his family were promised safety and security. A place to live, Goshen, and enough food to survive the famine. So, a single family of about 125 people moved to Egypt. Then, 400 years later, the descendants of these people were led out of captivity in Egypt, where they had been enslaved, by Moses. That single-family grew to roughly 2 to 5 million people, depending on which commentary you follow.
A Nation Returning to their Promised Land
Just as Israel crossed the Jordan river to at last enter their promised land, the nation of Israel recently begun to return to the land God had promised them. Many Jewish people have begun to move back to Israel from every part of the earth, just as God had promised. So, the physical restoration of Israel has begun. The Spiritual restoration of Israel, where they recognized Jesus Christ as their Messiah is yet to come. This last restoration, however, may not happen until the Tribulation period yet to come.
Jesus Christ came through the Jewish Nation
But through the Jewish people, we have our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ. He is the way to our salvation. It is our acceptance of him as our Lord, our devotion through faith and service to Him, that we walk the purpose given to us by Jesus. We are in the time of the Gentiles; we are the Church, which for a time has been given the task to shine God’s light in a world of sin and darkness. We have not taken Israel’s place in God’s covenant with Abraham, for that is an eternal covenant. We have taken on the task Jesus called us to, to proclaim the word of God.
Israel Rejected Jesus Christ
Scripture teaches about Jesus Christ, the Messiah. He was the promised Messiah that the Jews rejected. As a punishment, God scattered them all over the world, removing them from their promised land. In time, however, God will restore them, both physically to the land and spiritually, where they will finally recognize and accept Jesus as their long-awaited messiah. Israel is central to God’s word and teaching. They are our example of how God treats his children, for we are adopted into His family. God is just, but His Word is to be obeyed.
I will touch upon Israel and its role in End-Times further in future articles, as it is appropriate to the topic. They are central and interwoven, and cannot be ignored.