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OVER TEN YEARS ON THE WEB – 2002-2016!

 

God’s great plan of salvation has been revealed through the centuries in two very important entities, Israel and the Church. Both still exist in today’s world. It is of utmost importance that we gain understanding of these two realities and how they fit together. The very future of humanity
and the world likely depends upon this understanding.

All scripture quotations unless otherwise noted are taken from the New International Version of the Bible, copyright 1985, by the Zondervan Corporation.

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ISRAEL, GOD’S PLAN

When I was a young preacher I felt that God often changed his mind about people. If he chose one group of people and they didn’t work out, he would just cast them on the rubbish heap of nations and chose someone else. I was sure at the time he had now chosen my denomination. Obviously, I had not clearly thought out the implications of such a theology. If God could cast away others, then he could certainly do the same with my group and me.

Later in life, I learned that God is not capricious with his choices. Incredibly, God has only one plan, because unlike man, he sees the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:9-10). His plan is and always has been Israel. Throughout the ages God has been busy with his plan. As one old preacher said, “God plans his work and works his plan.” We don’t have to look far in the Bible to glimpse that Israel is God’s eternal plan. We Christians are not the plan, but only are a part of the plan because of God’s great grace.

Bible teachers and preachers have known for a long time that one can tell the importance of a subject by the frequency of its use in scripture. As an example, Christianity rests upon three pillars, as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:13. The pillars are faith, hope and love. When we check out the frequency of these words in the Authorized Version of the Bible, we find that faith appears 247 times, and hope appears 129 times. Love, being the most important of the three, appears 310 times. This is a respectable amount of appearances.

However when we check under “Jerusalem” we find it appears 811 times, more than faith,
hope and love combined. And then when we check under “Israel” we find that it appears 2566 times. This should tell us something about God’s overall plan. Let us look into it a
little further.

THE PLAN OF THE PEOPLE

The people of Israel, or the Jewish people, are the most unusual and special people on the
face of the earth today. This is clearly borne out in scripture. In Deuteronomy 7:6 we read:
“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”

As we read on in the book of Deuteronomy, we discover something else about the Jews that is simply astounding: “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel” (Deut. 32:8). In ways we cannot understand, the boundaries of all nations were determined by the number of Jews they would contain.

However, God doesn’t just want to play favorites with people. He chose Israel for his own
world-wide redemptive purposes. It was the eternal plan that his redeeming grace to the world would flow through Israel; that the Gospel of salvation would come to the whole world through them.

Today many people, and some of them Christians, say that God is through with Israel. After all, they sinned, even to the point of rejecting their own Messiah. We must ask ourselves this extremely important question: Has God really rejected the Jewish people because of all their sin and failure?

We can let the New Testament answer this question for us. In Romans 11:1-2, the Apostle Paul both asks and answers it: “I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! …God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew…” God is adamant about this as we see in the Old Testament passage of Jeremiah 31:36-37. Here the Lord speaks of his decrees concerning the sun, moon, stars, and the sea with its waves. He says, “‘Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,’ declares the LORD, ‘ will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me.’ This is what the LORD says: ‘Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,’ declares the LORD” (cf. Lev. 26:44-45).

THE PLAN OF THE LAND

Not only are the people of Israel special and chosen by God, but also the land of Israel is
special and chosen. There are several places in scripture where God actually calls the land of Israel “my land” (cf. Lev. 25:23; Isa. 14:25). In Deuteronomy 11:12, we read something very interesting about the land. The Bible says: “It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to
its end.”

A similar thing is said about the city of Jerusalem: “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me” (Isa. 49:16). Many other things are said in scripture that reveal the very close connection the Almighty has with Israel and Jerusalem. In Jeremiah 3:17, Jerusalem is even called the throne of God.

The whole land of Israel is like a “show and tell” designed by God to teach his children. God has been working for at least four thousand years to build a salvation infrastructure in the land of Israel. It was his plan that the chosen people would live there; that the Old Testament would be written there; that the Messiah would appear there; and that the Church would be formed there. The scripture sums it up by saying: “From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth“ (Psa. 50:2). It is clear from the prophets that Israel will ultimately become a show place of God’s grace and that the Messiah will return to
that place.

Although Israel is God’s land, we see the Almighty doing a strange thing with his land. He
gives it eternally to Abraham and to his children through Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 17:19-21).
What is also strange is that God specifically does not give any of his land to Ishmael,
Abraham’s child born of the slave woman Hagar. Today a billion plus Moslems in the world are certain that Ishmael is the father of their people. They believe that Ishmael was almost sacrificed instead of Isaac; that Ishmael received the promises. They also look at Israel as if it were their promised land. Did God make some mistake?

There is absolutely no mistake. God is so certain of his promise to Abraham that he even
swears an oath confirming it (Gen. 26:3; Heb. 6:16). Imagine, God Almighty perhaps raising his right hand and swearing an oath! Now we can begin to understand the problem in the Middle East. It is a problem that has roots in eternity. It will not be fully solved with anything short of divine intervention.

THE PLAN OF THE PEOPLE IN THE LAND

So, God has a people and he has a land. He has never changed his mind about either. He has a plan for his people in the land. If we had lived a century or so ago, we would have sounded like crazy people had we talked about Israel returning to her land. Yet, it has now happened, and much of it in the lifetime of people living today.

The statisticians tell us that in the next few years most of the Jewish people in the world will actually live in the land of Israel. Centuries ago the prophets of the Bible talked of this
happening. This was, in fact, an oft repeated theme of the prophets (cf. Isa. 43:5-7; Jer. 31:7-9). They all knew that someday the people of Israel would return to their native land. We have lived to see the word of the prophets come true. Just in the last decade of the twentieth century a million new immigrants returned home to Israel. They came home from the north (former USSR) and the south (Ethiopia) just as Isaiah said they would.

In the last century Jews have come home to Israel from over one hundred nations. In fact,
there are many countries today where Jews lived for centuries that are almost empty of their Jewish populations. Not only did the Jews come home, but their cities were rebuilt, their culture was reestablished and their ancient Hebrew language was restored.

God has a plan concerning their return. Once the bulk of the people are in the land, God will bring about a profound spiritual change. In Ezekiel 36:24-28, we see that a great sprinkling and cleansing will take place. Israel will be given a brand-new heart and a brand-new spirit. In Judeo/Christian history there have been many such spiritual moves of God. These authentic moves of God have all brought about incredible and lasting change.

There are many good things in store at this point for both Jews and the Gentiles, but we do not have space to deal with them here, or even to list them. We can only say that God’s eternal plan will then be worked out for Israel, for the Church and for the world. It will be worked out in the physical land of Israel and with the people who have returned miraculously from all the nations of earth. The end result will be an eternal age of peace and blessing for all mankind. This is how God’s plan will end.

There have been many peace plans for Israel and for the world, but this one will really bring peace. It will be a lasting peace – an eternal peace.

– Jim Gerrish

Read Jim’s new article –  God’s Plan continued

 

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Picture of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, as seen from the Mount of Olives

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