A book of this scope could be written without the help of many other people. I am indebted to Clarence H. Wagner, Jr. who assisted me with several sections of the book and made his personal library available to me. I am deeply indebted to my associates who patiently read the manuscript and offered their suggestions. These include Neal and Julie George, Earl Davis, Fran Grow and, of course, my wife who labored over the manuscript many months.
Also, I am indebted to Judy Stone, Anne Davis and others who looked over various sections of the manuscript and offered their good advice. Certainly I wish to express my gratitude to Edmund Lambeth, Professor of Journalism at the University of Missouri, for his patient assistance. Ron Cantrell gave me great assistance in computer graphics and design.
I am very grateful for the constant prayer support from my dear friends, Bill and Gloria Brereton, without which the book may never have come into existence.
I am especially grateful to Dr. Marvin Wilson, Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts, who took time from his busy year-end schedule to carefully read this manuscript and offer his valuable suggestions and insights.
Most of all, I am grateful to God who put Israel on my heart early in 1974. It is God who has sustained my wife and me in Israel now for over fifteen years. It is God who has allowed us to feed upon the heritage of our Father Jacob and to walk upon the land of his promise.
Perhaps this book will be a partial release of this spiritual burden God has placed upon me.
Several years ago I remember speaking about Israel at a certain church gathering. At the close of my sermon I was amazed to find that the pastor, who had previously acted friendly towards me, would no longer speak to me or even face me. As I remember, I left that church without receiving another word from him. I had spoken directly from the Bible but this man of God would have no part of the message. Over the years in my Israel ministry I have experienced other such perplexing episodes.
Perhaps I should not be so amazed at the action of this pastor. I remember in my early ministry that I also had little concern for Israel. It was not until God dealt with me miraculously in 1974, that my eyes were opened to his nation and people. My study of Israel since that time, and during the fifteen years that I have lived in the land, have been further eye-openers. It is unfortunate that so many millions of otherwise good Christians remain indifferent to the incredibly important subject of Israel.
It is now apparent that during the lifetime of many of us, God has done a miraculous work of restoring the nation of Israel. We modern and postmodern Christians now have to deal with something that other generations have not had to deal with. We must deal with a partially restored Israel in our midst. Yes, Israel has arisen from dust and ashes, as was foretold long ago by her prophets.
The rise of Israel is greatly impacting the Church, and many Christians, realizing this, are hungering for a deeper knowledge and understanding of Israel. It is my purpose in this book to share a portion of the things the Lord has shared with me over the years.
As we seek understanding we must bear in mind that we will never comprehend Israel unless we first understand that she is incredibly unique. For instance, tiny Israel, with less than one-half of one percent of the earth’s population, now commands the second largest press corps in the world. But Israel is not just unique naturally. She is unique spiritually. The Bible tells us that God’s eyes are upon Israel continually.
The Jews are a special people, as is related to us in the Bible. Just as the Jews are unlike other people, their history is also unlike that of others. It may even be called “redemptive history” or “holy history.” It is the most amazing history in the world. Other nations have come and gone but the Jews seem to remain immortal. From Father Abraham; to Moses; to Jesus; to the Holocaust and now to the restoration of the nation, we have a four-thousand-year span of redemptive history.
However, because Israel is chosen by God, the enemy has been busy. In the last hundred years Islam has raised its head to challenge the existence of Israel and even the existence of the Jewish people. Until fairly recent times, Islam had been of slight concern to Christians and Jews, especially those living in the west. Yet, since the recent Gulf Wars and especially since the events of 9/11, Christians have been forced to take notice of this religion. It now appears likely that Islam may be the biggest spiritual threat in our world today. It is a mortal threat not only to Israel and Judaism, but also to Christianity. The great Islamic battle against Israel and the Bible seems to have its focus in the Middle East. However, in spite of the sworn hatred of millions of Moslems in this area, the nation of Israel was not only born against incredible odds, but has prospered for over half a century.
Modern Israel is causing us to examine our Bibles more closely. When we look carefully in the scripture we find some shocking facts about our Christian family tree. We learn that our family tree is actually a Jewish one, as is made clear in Romans 11:17-18. Thus we are somehow spiritually connected to Israel. This fact has been carefully hidden from us almost since Apostolic Times. It is now evident that there was a subtle shift from a totally Jewish Christianity of the first century to an almost totally Gentile Christianity of the fourth century. Now after almost sixteen centuries the Church is left, cut off from its rich Hebrew roots, nurturing an animosity toward Israel and the Jews. Instead of the heritage of Israel, the Church is left with the heritage of anti-Semitism. The recent, awful Holocaust was only a natural result of almost two thousand years of Christian anti-Semitic teaching.
As we look more closely at our Bibles we must ask if the ancient promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3 is still effective? Are individuals and nations still blessed or cursed depending upon their treatment of Abraham and his seed, the Jewish people? We have only to travel quickly through history to see many evidences of this strange fact. When we do, we will see how Jewish genius particularly blessed Holland, America, and many other nations. We will see how nations like Spain, Portugal, England and especially the Palestinian people have all come under a curse because of their treatment of the Jews. Which will it be for us? Will we receive blessing or cursing?
Has the Church’s shabby treatment of the Jews been noticed by God? Does it concern our Messiah? Could it be that the Messiah is involved in Israel and is even re-gathering the nation? There is a great deal of biblical evidence supporting this, especially in the so-called “Servant Songs” of Isaiah 41 and following. If Messiah is gathering and restoring Israel, it certainly places the Church in an embarrassing and awkward position. Not only has the Church failed to help with this messianic work – we have positively hindered it.
A few centuries ago, as the Bible became available to the common reader, the Church began to wake up. The beginning of the Modern Christian Zionist movement (formerly known as Restorationism) can be traced back to the sixteenth century Puritans. Along the way, common people, presidents, prime ministers, and poets spoke out for the Jews and their homeland.
Today the rise of Israel is forcing Christians to take another look at the Old Testament. It is also forcing us to take a new look at the New Testament. New archaeological discoveries in the land are shedding light on the whole Bible and broadening our understanding. The rebirth of Israel is helping us better understand Bible prophecy, especially that prophecy related to the end days.
Although the ancient prophets spoke of the redeemed someday returning to Zion, the terminology has become politically loaded today. Where do God and the Bible stand in the present day conflicts? Disregarding the world’s concepts of “political correctness,” we must look at God’s special connection with Jerusalem and the Jews. In no uncertain terms God calls himself a Zionist.
How is all this working out in our modern world? How will it all end? The scripture is very clear that God will deal with all nations. The time for this dealing seems to be close at hand. There will be a “storm before the calm” in world events according to the Bible. Nations will be drawn to Israel for one “final solution” of the world’s Jewish problem. The Mighty God of Israel will then intervene to fight for little Israel in a dramatic manner. Strangely, the Messiah will stand on the Mount of Olives for the specific purpose of delivering Israel from the wrath of the nations. After God has dealt with nations for their hatred and hypocrisy, a wonderful era of peace, real peace, Messianic peace, will rule in our world.