Focus On Jerusalem

Title

Israel From God's Perspective
by: Norbert Lieth






Israel From God's Perspective
by Norbert Lieth

(*FOJ Note: I heard and met Norbert Lieth at the Atlantic Coast Prophecy Conference in 2003 and found him to be very enlightening)

    From curious interest to unfathomable depths of hatred, the range of feelings and views regarding Israel is almost greater than on any other subject. But how does God see the Jewish people? Today the Jewish people are mainly portrayed from the perspective of politicians, journalists and the media. Recently, a German television network insulted Israel by reporting nothing but distorted facts. Even church institutions are sometimes openly against Israel. Such attitudes serve to promote an even more distorted picture of Israel. It is not so relevant how the nations see, observe and judge Israel. It is of far greater significance what God thinks of Israel. Ultimately He will prove to be right in His verdict upon His covenant people, and not without grave consequences for the nations.  Therefore, how the nations see Israel is not decisive. What really counts is how God views this Middle Eastern country. Ultimately, His verdict regarding His covenantal people will prove itself right, but not without grave consequences for the nations. We also know, however, that not everything that Israel does is good. The majority of the people has no relationship with God. All the stages in Israel's history have been characterized by mistakes and downfalls. Yet God always adhered to His promises. Even when Israel reached rock bottom and rejected her Messiah, the Lord said to her, "Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matthew 23:39). Jesus' words are proof that He has not rejected His people, but that they have an end-time destiny of restoration.

Israel Remains in the Focus of Prophecy

    Matthew 25 emphasizes that as a nation, Israel is important to God, and that His covenant with this people remains throughout every period of history. The nations will be gathered before the Lord of glory and will be judged according to how they treated or mistreated the Jews. The focus will be on Israel when Jesus returns. The fact that Israel has retained its national identity up to this present day is a remarkable testimony of the topical nature of God's Word. If Israel had no further significance, she would have disappeared from spiritual history. If it were true that the Church has taken over all the blessings that God promised to Israel, there would be no need for a judgment at the end of time. Here, however, a clear distinction is made between the nations, on one hand, and the least of Jesus' brothers on the other. "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats...And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:31-32,40).

    Who are Jesus' brothers? They are the Jews. They will be persecuted during the Great Tribulation, but in the end, they will come to believe in Jesus. Matthew 28:10 says, "Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me." Hebrews 2:16-17 says, "For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." And Psalm 122:5-8 says, "For there [in Jerusalem] are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee." I find Jesus' use of the words "my brethren" very moving because this makes it clear how God sees the Jewish people. The Lord identifies Himself strongly with His people, the Jews.

Israel is Important Where Jesus is Concerned

    God told Abraham, "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:3). What was the reason for such serious words? It was because the blessing for all the peoples of the earth was to come from Israel, Abraham's seed. Jesus Christ is this blessing. If the blessing for all nations comes from Abraham's seed, then it is not surprising that the curse will come upon those among the nations who curse Israel. This is also why Jesus has to return and reign as King in Jerusalem, because Jerusalem is chosen for Him for eternity. "For David said, The Lord God of Israel hath given rest unto his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem for ever" (1st Chronicles 23:25). When the queen of Sheba visited Solomon, she spoke these prophetic words: "Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the Lord thy God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice" (2nd Chronicles 9:8). Blessing and curse upon people and nations are connected with their attitude to the people of God...The coming dramatic events around Israel are the culmination of the history of God with the world under the aspect of this blessing or curse" Ultimately, God's promise to Abraham regarding blessing or curse was fulfilled in Jesus' judgment upon the nations, for here the terms "blessing" and "curse" also occur. To the one He says, "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34). But the divine verdict upon the other was, "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41).

Israel's Place in the Bible

    Almost every book of the Old Testament concerns itself with the prophecies regarding Israel's future. Among those prophecies are those that are yet to be fulfilled, such as the Messianic kingdom.

         The Old Testament Book of Genesis contains 50 chapters. Eleven of those chapters deal with the creation of heaven and earth, the creation of man, the fall into sin, the flood, the Tower of Babel and the development and spread of the nations. This is a relatively small space for such great themes. The other 39 chapters deal with Israel's history, beginning with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

         The Israel theme is continued in New Testament prophecy, where the way into the Messianic kingdom right up to eternity is described (see Matthew 23:39; 24-25; Acts 15:14-17; Romans 9-11 and Revelation).

   For instance, Acts 3:19-21 says, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." The Jews did not repent at that time, but repentance will come when the Great Tribulation takes place. Then the Lord will return from heaven and fulfill the remaining prophecies (Daniel 7:13 onward; 9:24; 12:1-3 and Zechariah 12:10-14).

God Identifies Himself with Israel

    Matthew 25:40, 45 says, "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me...Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me." When the Assyrian King Sanherib wanted to attack the kingdom of Judah and capture Jerusalem during the time of Hezekiah, God's answer to him was, "Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel" (2nd Kings 19:22). The Lord made it clear through Zechariah that Israel was comparable to the apple of His eye; "...he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye" (Zechariah 2:8). When the king of the Canaanites attacked Israel with his captain Sisera, the Lord gave Israel victory over them through Deborah, Barak and Jael. Then Deborah and Barak sang a song, "Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves...My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the Lord...Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty" (Judges 5:2, 9, 23).

If the nations only knew whom they're up against when they defame Israel!

Israel's Contrast to the Nations

    Israel was chosen by God and was separated from the other nations for eternity. This nation possesses a primary position before all other nations of the world and will remain forever.

         The nations' borders are determined by the number of the sons of Israel: "When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel" (Deuteronomy 32:8).

         Jerusalem is the geographic center of all the nations surrounding her: "Thus saith the Lord God; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her" (Ezekiel 5:5).

         Israel is the center of the earth: "To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land" (Ezekiel 38:12).

         "And what one nation in the earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be his own people, to make thee a name of greatness and terribleness...For thy people Israel didst thou make thine own people for ever; and thou, Lord, becamest their God. Therefore now, Lord, let the thing that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant and concerning his house be established for ever, and do as thou hast said. Let it even be established, that thy name may be magnified for ever, saying, The Lord of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel: and let the house of David thy servant be established before thee" (1st Chronicles 17:21-24; also compare to16:14-17).

These words contain deep truths:

Israel is incomparable to the other nations because of God's sovereign election. She serves His glory. This fact remains true for all eternity. The Name of the Lord will be exalted forever because He will not let His people fall. The hatred of God's enemies, however, is directed against this. Someone once wrote, "The roots of the Holocaust are deep, and from the beginning of the nation of Israel attempts were made to exterminate her (Egypt). Being God's chosen people also means suffering, besides knowing the Most High and the experiencing of His blessing. A world that hates God must also despise His people. They cannot fight against God, so they attack His people" (Psalm 83:1-4). The fact that the above mentioned truths remain, that they retain their validity up to the present day and in the future, is proven by the fact that at the return of Jesus Christ, God's judgment will come upon the nations.

What are the godless nations in comparison to Israel? Here, too, the Bible does not leave us without an answer:

The Word of God also remains when all the voices against Israel have been silenced: "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever"(Isaiah 40:8). Jesus will return to redeem His people: "Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young"(Isaiah 40:10-11).

Then the nations are described, "Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing...All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?"(Isaiah 40:15;17-18, compare also to Psalm 62:9-10).

My dear reader, will not the One who lifts up the isles as if they were nothing be able to solve your problems too?

Our Attitude Toward Israel in Question

How do you see Israel? Do you see God's covenantal people from the same perspective as God, do you regard the Jews as any other people, according to the mistakes they make, or do you view them as the nations do? As believers, we are not living in this generation by chance. We have a task where the Jewish people are concerned. We must be sure that we do not make the same mistake other generations before us have made. Esther was queen at the court of the Persian ruler for one reason: to stand up for the Jewish people in their plight. Mordecai sent her a message: "...Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:13-14). Esther had to take a stand. God would help the Jewish people one way or another, but if she had remained silent, she would have lost out on such a wonderful blessing. God will help the Jewish people. He has chosen them for eternity. They have not been destined to fall. Therein lies the glorification of Jesus Christ: in the proof of the trustworthiness of His Word. But He wants to do it through us. For this reason, we must not be silent.

 












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