At the center of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East is a fundamental, socio-religious ideology that says Jews should not exist—anytime or anywhere—much less as occupants of the land presently known as the modern State of Israel. As a result, the Israeli State faces a constant and seemingly imminent threat to her national sovereignty and safety: Palestinian rockets and mortar shells launched almost daily toward Israeli territory; powerful Arab leaders with potential nuclear capabilities calling for the annihilation of the “Zionist regime;” escalating, internal conflicts within neighboring countries threatening to destabilize the entire region; the nations of the world continually demonizing every attempt made by the State of Israel to defend against her aggressors. Confronted by such contempt and antagonism, the government nevertheless tries to negotiate land for peace, with an Israeli/Palestinian two-state solution looming as inevitable. Yet the real and growing danger hanging over the State of Israel endures.
Despite this perpetual crisis, however, we need not be concerned that Adonai will fail to protect and preserve Israel. Indeed, though all the nations of the earth will one day gather against Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:3), Adonai will ultimately destroy those who attack His holy city (Zechariah 12:9). Eventually, Israel will have peace and safety; in the end, Israel will survive.
But what of Israel today? What assurances do we have that during the present era, God will protect and preserve the State of Israel from her ever-present foes? And what is our role and responsibility as we watch these events unfold?
The establishment of the modern State is considered by many to be the beginning of the final regathering of Israel—that the Jewish people will never again be expelled from our ancestral homeland. According to Jeremiah 32:37, Adonai says, “I will surely gather [Israel and Judah] from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety.” Likewise, in Ezekiel 34:28-29, Adonai declares, “…[Israel] will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid…. they will no longer… bear the scorn of the nations.” Unfortunately, such a characterization falls far short of describing the condition of the modern Israeli State. Those residing in the Land today do not “live in safety”—they do indeed have reason to be afraid, because they continually “bear the scorn of the nations.”
Why? Why must the State of Israel have “defensible borders”? Why are the people of the Land not enjoying the life of peace promised for the Regathering? Perhaps it is because certain conditions necessary for Israel’s final possession of the Land may be the same as those God required for the first. Indeed, while Israel wandered forty years in the desert before first taking possession of the Land, Adonai promised that she would live there securely only if “you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands” (see Leviticus 26:3-6, cf. 25:18). Israel’s peace and safety have always been conditional—they depend in part on Israel’s collective faithfulness to God.
This conditional protection is mentioned several times by Moses. For example, in Deuteronomy 4:40, he encourages the people of Israel to “keep [Adonai’s] decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time” (cf. Deuteronomy 32:46-47). He also strongly exhorts Israel in Deuteronomy 4:25-26, warning them that “after you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt… you will quickly perish from the land…. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed.” Moses assures Israel that in turn for their unfaithfulness, “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies” (Deuteronomy 28:25).
The nation of Israel (that is, the Jewish people—both in and outside the Land) has wandered far from the decrees and commands of our God. With regard to our physical regathering, half of us are still assimilated into and dispersed throughout the nations, while many of us living within the barely-Biblical and still shrinking borders of the modern Israeli State are just as secular, worldly, and permissive of sin as the rest. Is this the faithful Israel Moses instructed us to be?
In John 5:46-47 (cf. Luke 24:27), the Master Yeshua admonishes the sons of Israel, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” When the people of Israel return to the decrees and commands of Adonai, we will finally experience the restoration of our birthright. But before Israel can nationally count on the physical safety promised to us by God, it will require more than just our regathering to the Land… we must also be regathered to Him through the Son of David—the Messiah Yeshua, our Salvation! (See Ezekiel 37:23-25.)
As we watch the relentless bombardment against the State of Israel, we should be pierced with an urgency to reach the Israel in our own backyards—our Jewish families, friends and neighbors—with the truth of Yeshua. Let us no longer simply pray for the peace of physical Jerusalem, but actively work to revive spiritual Jerusalem in the hearts and minds of every Jew… everywhere.
What do you think? Weigh in with your comments below.
This “Challenging Paradigms” article was also published in Messianic Jewish Issues.