For Such a Time as This
For nearly thrty years, I have taught Christians that their heritage is in Israel. This truth is unchanging; but so is the fact that the very destiny of the Church is bound in the land and the people of Israel. Today, as Israel is in the throes of turmoil and on the brink of war from within its borders and from the media around the world, this detail must be recognized and accepted.
Teaching Christians about their Jewish heritage nearly always takes us to Romans 11:11 which affirms that “salvation has come to the Gentiles in order to provoke (Israel) to jealousy” in the Messiah. This basic tenet is the foundation stone upon which all evangelism to Jewish people rests. But beyond the call to share the gospel with your Jewish neighbor or friend, the role of the Gentiles in the restoration of the people to the land is as important as in their restoration to their G-d. For it is in the return of the exiles to Zion that kol am Israel (all the people of Israel) will be saved.
Ezekiel was a prophet called as a young man to speak the word of the L-rd. Now when a prophet speaks, it is most usually to people with whom the L-rd is dealing directly as well. But the 36th chapter of this prophet’s work is a bit unusual. It is addressed not to the people of Israel, but “to the mountains and the hills of Israel.” This is a unique work of the L-rd in the land for its preparation for the return of the people to the land “from all the nations to which they have been scattered.” This word has had a progression of fulfillment in the land, yet its ultimate and complete time has not yet come. You see, during the days of the prophecy, Israel was in Babylonian captivity, from which they returned. Many years later, Israel saw a return from the horrors of a European holocaust that would destroy millions but would end in the establishment of the state of Israel and the return of many from Europe, later from Africa and from Middle Eastern countries which had turned to Islamic hatred of the Jewish people. But still, the land awaits its greatest time of receiving Jewish people from all the nations from which we are spread. Still, it awaits a time when, according to Ezekiel 36:10 states, “I will multiply people upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it.” According to verses 24-28, “Then I will sprinkle clean water upon you…I will cleanse you from all your filthiness…I will give you a new heart…I will put My Spirit within you…you shall be My people and I shall be your G-d.”
G-d will, in His time, bring all of the dispersed Jewish people from all the nations, back to the land of Israel. He will, in His time, make Israel to be the home to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, just like He promised thousands of years ago. He is a faithful and true G-d and His promises are yes and Amen. No matter what it takes to break the comfort of American Jews and to send them back to the land of their forefathers, G-d will accomplish it. And the Gentiles have a very important role in this great work.
Isaiah 49:15-21 tells of the promise of G-d to never forget Israel and to return the Jews to their place. In fact, verse 19 illuminates a future problem that we will have to soon deal with, I believe. It says “For your waste and desolate places, and the land of your destruction (referring to Israel after a great conflict), will even now be too small for the inhabitants; and those who swallowed you up will be far away.” Even today, the nation of Israel is faced with pressure to give even more of its land to the enemies of G-d and of His people in exchange for a type of peace. But, the promise of G-d is to send those who destroy us far away!
Now look at verses 22 & 23. In it, the work of Gentiles is revealed clearly. “Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the Gentiles, and set up a standard for the peoples; they shall bear your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders…” It will be the righteous Gentiles who affect the return to Zion after two millennia of dispersion. It is in the future of Israel that Gentiles will be called into the service of their G-d.
Returning to Ezekiel, we find, in verse 2 “This is what the Sovereign L-rd says: ‘the Enemy has said of you, “Aha! The everlasting heights have become our possession.”’ It is interesting to note that this is not a reference to “your” enemy nor to “an” enemy; it is a reference to “the enemy” who is called elsewhere in scripture “satan.” Satan has taken possession of the mountains of Israel and has proclaimed them as his own. Today, the “Everlasting Heights of Israel,” are called by the media and by others “the West Bank.” They have become the possession of the Moslem Arab terrorists called the Palestinian Authority. This group is none other than the same Palestinian Liberation Organization that bombed our Embassies, kidnapped our journalists and high-jacked our airplanes.
Dear friends, do not misunderstand nor fall into the trap. The Arabs are not the enemies of G-d. Islam is! Many are lulled into believing that Moslems worship the same G-d that we do, they just use His Arabic name. This is a lie that has deceived many and has made us believe, as an article in Christianity Today states “many Moslems love G-d, they just don’t yet know Jesus.” This is absolutely a lie. Moslems worship a god of war, not the G-d of love. Their god teaches that to die in the attempt of killing “infidels” is an automatic pass into heaven; there to be attended by seven virgins forever! And, it defines “infidel” as Christians or Jews; in fact anyone who does not embrace the Islamic faith is damned by it.
Another important fact that is rarely understood is that Israel is the only place in the world where one may be a Christian and not believe in Jesus, or even have faith in G-d. You see, each citizen of Israel has an identity card which declares their religion. Jews are easy; but Arabs are separated into only two groups: Moslem and Christian. The term “Arab Christian” is not a statement of faith, therefore, but a political designation for Christians, Buddhists, New Age believers and pagans!
“The enemy” has taken over the Arab government in Israel and around the world. Across the globe we see Moslem slaughter of Christians and of Jews. It is no wonder that in Israel, we are facing this same reality. But for here, there is a promise of its conclusion! Ezekiel 36:6 states that because the mountains “have suffered the insults of the nations” G-d will deliver them back to His people. What can you do to insult a mountain? You can call it by something other than what G-d calls it! G-d established these heights as Judea and Samaria but the media and most of the world call them the West Bank. Please do not fall into this trap either!
Zechariah 12 declares what is heavy on the heart of G-d concerning Israel. It begins, “The burden of the word of the L-rd concerning Israel.” It is an account of the future that the United Nations and the Moslem and Arab nations could bring about very soon. Verses 2 and 3 continue with words proven in today’s headlines: “Behold I will make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. And it will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severally injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.” All the nations of the earth will be gathered against the city that G-d says will be habitation forever! Even now, the Palestinian leader, Yassir Arafat is posturing to bring the United Nations into the city of Jerusalem and he has the cooperation of many of the world’s leaders as well. How could this be? It is in the Book! Verse 6 brings an interesting idea to bear, “I will make the clans of Judah as a firepot among pieces of wood and a flaming torch among the sheaves, so they will consume on the right hand and on the left all the surrounding peoples, while the inhabitants of Jerusalem again dwell in their own sites in Jerusalem.” Hmmm. ”The clans of Judah”, huh? About whom is the L-rd referring? Here’s a hint, found in verse 7, “ The L-rd will save the tents of Judah first…” Well? Who is it? First, remember this glaring principle, seen throughout the Bible and throughout history, G-d accomplishes His purposes through His people.
Let’s go back to Romans 11. In verses 17 through 21, we read what is called the “Olive Tree Principle.” Basically, it shows that it is because Gentiles are grafted into the tree that is Israel that they are nurtured and made holy. In this passage, we are told that Gentiles must never forget that it is not the branch that supports the root but the root that supports the branch. Yet it is the branches that collect the light and the water to keep the root fed and healthy. So, without pride, both the root and the branches must feed and protect and strengthen one another. Now, Israel is a tree of twelve branches, as represented in the tribes. If the Gentiles are in fact grafted into this tree, then it is only because of their faith in the Messiah of Israel who is called in Revelation 5, “The Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” So it is the clan of Judahthat Gentiles have joined.
This is illustrated in a much earlier passage as well. When Moses selected one from each tribe to go spy out the land, from the tribe of Judah, he chose Caleb. Now Caleb was the son of Jephunneh, and according to Numbers 32:12, Jephunneh was a Kenizzite. They were Gentiles who had joined with the people of Israel, perhaps even from their exodus from Egypt. In any case, Caleb was a Gentile yet he represented the tribe of Judah. Brothers and sisters, it is now the time for you to stand among the clan of Judah!
The L-rd saved you first so that you could come to the rescue of the city of Jerusalem in its hour of greatest need. Continue to read Zechariah 12, beginning in verse 8 …the L-rd will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem…”and “will set about to destroy all the nations that have come up against Jerusalem.” As He brings an understanding to the Church of her role and responsibility to Israel, the Church will rise up and rescue the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Rise up, O Church. Rise up and become that which the L-rd has ordained for you from the foundation of the world. “Yet who knows whetheryou have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” asks the L-rd of you through His word in Esther 4:14.
For when all the nations come against the people and against the city of Jerusalem, and when the Church is Israel’s only friend, as I believe will be revealed very soon, then will the Jewish people, even those scattered across the globe, will see the love of the Church for the Jewish people and for the city of the King. Then, they will accept this love and will be changed.
Read Zechariah 12: 10, ”And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look upon Me whom they have pierced; and will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.” Many preach that this speaks of the return of the L-rd and that then all Israel will look upon the nail-scarred hands and will actually see the one whom was pierced and that this will cause the salvation of Israel. This theology strikes in the face of everything I believe. As a Believer in Yeshua, the Messiah, I believe that I am saved by my faith in the finished work of the Messiah. Not by what I can see and prove, but by faith alone. Yet many would put Jewish people into a trap that can only be sprung by their basing their relationship with G-d upon that which they can see or can do. This is just not consistent with basic Christian belief in salvation by faith. Jewish people must see the nail-scared hands with the same eyes of faith that you and I have seen them. Only then can kol am Israel receive her salvation in Yeshua the Messiah of Israel, whose name means salvation! The return of the L-rd comes about, according to the prophet Zechariah, in the 14th chapter, at a later time (But that’s another message).
The role of Gentiles in the salvation of Israel is the very basis of salvation for the Gentiles. Remember Romans 11:11, “to provoke Israel to jealousy?” This is how you do that; you stand up against every government, every leader, even leaders of churches who deny the word of G-d and its promises to the people of Israel. You take a stand upon the promises of G-d and you show your faith in a G-d who can use even you to accomplish His purposes. You show yourself willing to become a living sacrifice, according to Romans 12:1, for the sake of the land and the people of Israel.
Jeremiah 31:6-10 holds a clear word of instruction. Most have never heard it because without Hebrew language, you miss an important alert. It proclaims:“For there will be a day when watchmen on the hills of Ephraim call out, 'Arise, and let us go up to Zion, To the L-rd our God.'" For thus says the L-rd, "Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise and say, 'O L-rd, save Your people, the remnant of Israel.' Behold, I am bringing them from the north country, and I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and she who is in labor with child, together; a great company, they will return here." With weeping they will come, and by supplication I will lead them; I will make them walk by streams of waters, on a straight path in which they will not stumble; For I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn." Hear the word of the L-rd, O nations, and declare it tin the coastlands afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him; and keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.”
The first important word in this passage is the word for watchmen. In Hebrew there are three words for watchmen. The first is Tsopayik, from the root word tsaphah (tsaw-faw'); a primitive root; properly, to lean forward, i.e. to peer into the distance; by implication, to observe, await:
The next is Shomrim, from the root word shamar (shaw-mar'); a primitive root; properly, to hedge about (as with thorns), i.e. guard; generally, to protect, attend to, etc.:
Finally, is the word used here in this passage, the word Notzrim, from the root word natsar (naw-tsar'); a primitive root; to guard, in a good sense (to protect, maintain, obey, etc.) or a bad one (to conceal, etc.): It is also the modern Hebrew word used for Christians!
Yes, over 700 years before the foundation of the Church, G-d had ordained that Christians would cry out ”Arise, let us go up to Zion, to the L-rd our G-d.” G-d had ordained this and more, let’s continue. Notice that in verse 7, He gives instruction to these Notzrim as He tells them to “sing aloud…shout…proclaim, give praise and say.” Then He tells them what to say. He declares that they are to remind Him of His promises to save the remnant of His people, Israel. Then, He continues to instruct them to proclaim that it is theywho will bring them from the north country; it is they who will gather them from the remote parts of the earth. These Notzrim will “make them walk by streams of waters, on a straight path…” The Notzrim are to be as a father to Israel.” Notice that the word father is not capitalized as when it refers to the Father! Read verse 10 and understand again that G-d accomplishes His purpose through His people. Yes, because of their unbelief and rebellion and disobedience, G-d scattered Israel around the world. He used Nebuchadnezzar and he used Caesar; he used the Turks and he used the British. He always accomplishes his purpose, and he does it through people whom ignore Him and through those who serve Him. Will He use you? Will you be one of the Notzrim who will bring them from the north country; and who will gather them from the remote parts of the earth. Will you help to”make them walk by streams of waters, on a straight path.” Will you be one of those He promises that shall bear your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders? Will you stand on the promises of G-d and on nothing else and declare that the set time for Israel has come?
The people of Israel need the Church like never before the times are tumultuous and will probably get worse before they get better. We are seeking those who will be the instruments of a Holy G-d “for such a time as this.” Will you be counted among them? Please pray without ceasing and support those who labor here in the land that G-d still calls beautiful.