The spiritual time clock hangs in modern Israel. This young nation - which has just celebrated its 50th Jubilee year of existence since its founding in 1948 - is an important biblical reference to gauge the Second Coming of Christ.
Jerusalem in particular has been singled out as the possible venue for His prophetic return. The two angels in Acts 1:11 witnessed to the disciples by saying, 'This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven".
The phrase "in like manner" means that He will return in the exact manner as He went up. Just as He went in a cloud - He went bodily, personally, literally, visibly, gloriously, as the God-Man - so He will return the same way (Revelation 19; 1 Thessalonians 4:15- 17).
Some read that He will touch down where He last left off, at the Mount of Olives, which is according to Acts 1:12, "near Jerusalem, a Sabbath's day's journey". If this is justified, then the prophetic words of the Old Testament prophet Zechariah will be fulfilled:
"And in that day His feet will
stand on the Mount of Olives,
which faces Jerusalem on the east.
And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two,
From east to west,
Making a very large valley;
Half of the mountain shall
Move toward the north
And half of it toward the south." (Zechariah 14:4)
THE LINK BETWEEN THE CHURCH AND ISRAEL
How is the Church linked to Israel?
Here several views which compete for attention. One view is that the Jews will no longer have any claim to God's promises. This view sees Christians as the "spiritual Jews" who have inherited all the former promises made to believing Jews in the Old Testament and the Church therefore has displaced Israel in God's favour.
However, this 'displacement theology' denies or effectively marginalises any significance to modern events in the light of the prophetic texts. God has not finished with Israel yet. He is using the historical process to complete His promise to His chosen people (Amos 3:2). In Romans 11:1,2, Paul wrote: "Has God cast away His people? Certainly not! … God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew".
Paul made an extraordinary observation in Ephesians 2:11- 22 regarding the historical contribution of Christ's atoning work at the Cross. He mentions the numeral 2 four times from verses 14- 18, referring to the two entities - the Church and the Commonwealth of Israel - and that Christ has made peace between these two groups by breaking the middle wall of partition between them (a reference to the Temple courts where the Court of the Gentiles was physically separated from the Courts of Israel). Thus He has reconciled them and put to death the enmity between them and made them one.
This leads to the amazing conclusion that God desires that both the Church and Israel be fellow citizens built upon the foundations - the roots of the Jewish apostles and prophets - and to grow together as a holy temple for the dwelling of the Lord.
Isaiah 49:6 tells us that the Messiah is the unifier called by the Father to bring both Israel and the Gentile nations back to Him:
"Indeed He says, it is too small a thing that you should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be My salvation to the ends of the Earth".
Zechariah 8:20- 23 holds a prophetic message:
"Peoples shall yet come and say - let us continue to go and pray before the Lord and to seek the Lord of Hosts - yes, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem … in those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grab the sleeve of a Jewish man saying "LET US GO WITH YOU FOR WE HAVE HEARD THAT GOD IS WITH YOU".
Zechariah 14:16- 19 adds:
"And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts and to keep the feast of Tabernacles". (Isaiah 60:8; Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:10,16; Revelation 21:2, 10, 11).
Through Isaiah, God promised the complete restoration of Jerusalem:
"I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
They shall never hold their peace day or night.
You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent,
And give Him no rest till He establishes
And till He makes Jerusalem a praise on the earth." (Isaiah 62:6,7)
As the Church stands with Israel now, it will have prophetic significance in the end times when the world will finally stand with Israel although some nations will initially resist her. This show of unity is in accordance with the reconciliatory work of Yeshua Messiah. Salvation is one such blessing of His Atonement. The recipient Church has a duty to share this Blessed Hope especially with disbelieving Jews who have yet to accept Him as their promised Messiah.
The imagery of a mutual covenant may be an indirect encouragement as found in Amos 3:3 which reiterates, "How can two walk together unless they be agreed?" This is covenantally united in a common mission, vision, purpose, and call. The Hebrew word for "agree" is yaad, a word that denotes mutual and consensual agreement as that between a husband and wife. The gift of a special relationship with God implied a sense of responsibility (2 Corinthians 6:14- 18; Ephesians 6:25- 33).
The privilege of the Church as being part of the Commonwealth of Israel carries with it the responsibility of evangelising. (Acts 1:8)
PROPHETIC FULFILLMENT AND CURRENT EVENTS
Many Christians who love the Bible believe that much of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the end-times daily fill the newspaper headlines and nightly flash across the television screens.
This should not arouse fear but awaken one to the reality of the soon appearing of our Savior and encourage one's own readiness to meet Him on that day. Meanwhile one can draw comfort and motivation that the scriptures are still being fulfilled in one's lifetime and that God is working out the historical process before our very eyes.
FULFILLED PROPHECIES CONCERNING ISRAEL
- The Return of the Jews to Israel
Aliyah (Hebrew word for go up, ascend) is the Jewish expression used for the act of returning or making immigration to the land of Israel.
For 2,000 years, there has been no organised return to the Promised Land until this century, which saw the establishment of an independent Jewish state. If this is part of the fulfillment of God's prophetic plan, then we must consider current events affecting Israel as prophetically significant.
This re-gathering of the Jews from all the nations of the world - the most recent being the Russian Jews who immigrated to Israel because of the current recession in Russia - is surely under the hand of God.
Jeremiah 16:14- 15 says:
"The Lord who lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north (RUSSIA?) and from all the lands where He has driven them. For I will bring them back into the lands which I gave their fathers. Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the end of the earth… a great throng shall return."
- A Common Language Restored
When one hears the Hebrew language being spoken by the Israeli, it is nothing short of a miracle for the Hebrew language was restored by one of the founding fathers of modern Israel, Theodore Hertzl, after 2,000 years of disuse.
"For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language that they may all call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord." (Zephaniah 3:9)
- Development in The Nation of Israel
- The Greening of Israel
During the Turkish occupation of the land, taxes were levied on trees. Thus many trees were cut down to avoid taxes and the land became impoverished and barren. Now under a greening programme, large tracts of modern Israel have been successfully reclaimed and forests have reappeared together with the fauna and flora of biblical times.
Ezekiel 36:7- 11 state:
"I have lifted my hand in oath…but you O mountains of Israel shall shoot forth branches and yield fruit, you shall be tilled and sown, the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt."
Ezekiel 36:34-36 also state: 'The desolate land shall be tilled ... and become as the garden of Eden, ruined cities are not fortified and inhabited, then the nations around you shall know that I the Lord have rebuilt the ruined places…. I the Lord has spoken it and I will do it."
- The Famous Fruits of Israel
Despite its critical shortage of water and arable land, Israel is famous for her variety of fruits that are exported to Europe and North America especially during the winter months when demand is higher. She has developed a highly advanced agricultural system - desert horticulture - with special features like drip irrigation and anti-evaporation plastic screens which are attracting many students from around the world to come and study them.
Isaiah 27:6 states that Israel shall blossom and bud and fill the face of the world with fruits.
- Modern Israel: The United Kingdom of Judah and Northern Israel
TWO kingdoms have been united as ONE - the divided kingdoms of Judah and northern Israel - separated for 2,950 years since the time of Solomon's son around 950 BC.
Ezekiel 37:21, 22 state: "I will make them one nation in the land, one king shall be over them all, they shall no longer be two nations."
Arising from the above, the following statements can be made:
- The End-Times spiritual time clock hangs in modern Israel.
- Through Christ the Messiah, the church belongs to the commonwealth of Israel and she has a duty to evangelise to ensure a common destiny in Christ.
- The historical fulfillment of prophetic scriptures regarding Israel is ongoing.
- This confirms the truth of God's Word and should encourage the church to adopt a reverential fear of the Lord and a commitment to prepare to meet him at His second coming.
- Johnian, Mona, The Bargaining for Israel in the Shadow of Armageddon, North Brunswick, New Jersey, Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1996.
- Prince, Derek, The Destiny of Israel and the Church, Milton Keynes, England, Word Book, 1992.
- Price, Randall, In Search of Temple Treasures, Eugene, Oregon, Harvest House Publishers, 1994.
- Hagee, John C, Final Dawn Over Jerusalem, Nashville, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998.
- The Life and Times Historical Reference Bible.
- New King James Version Bible, Nashville, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997.