the Promised Land
Focus on Jerusalem is constantly striving to present new and
enlightening prophecy–related material to its readers. The FOJ Library has been
built to house numerous articles by various authors that I think have been
inspired by the Holy Spirit to help guide the watching Church to better
discernment about the truth of our times. This article regarding modern Israel
and the land in conflict by Dr. Thomas Ice of the pre-Tribulation Research
Institute is such an article. I hope that it will add to your knowledge about
Modern Israel's Right To The Land
By: Dr. Thomas Ice
the word of the Lord came to me, saying, "Son of man, your brothers, your
relatives, your fellow exiles, and the whole house of Israel, all of them, are
those to whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, 'Go far from the Lord;
this land has been given us as a possession.' Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord
God, though I had removed them far away among the nations, and though I had
scattered them among the countries, yet I was a sanctuary for them a little
while in the countries where they had gone.'" Therefore say, "Thus says the Lord
God, 'I shall gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries
among which you have been scattered, and I shall give you the land of Israel.
When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its
abominations from it. (Ezekiel 11:14-18)
modern state of Israel is under attack like never before since her 1948 founding
from all sides throughout the world. Recently a secular Israeli said shortly
after this summer's war (2006) with Hezbollah, "Every year they hate us more."
No matter what Israel does, whether good or bad, it is viewed by most of the
world as a provocation that justifies the world's hatred toward God's covenant
that's not bad enough, you would think that people of the Book (Christians)
would be unified in their support of contemporary Israel since God is bringing
His people back to their land. Yet, an increasing number of many within
Christendom are speaking out, and like the unbelieving world, they too are
blaming Israel for the problems in the Middle East.
Land Verses Jesus?
of those within the Evangelical orbit of those who deny Israel's clear prophetic
future in the Bible is replacement theologian Gary DeMar, who said of a
Christian and Jewish pro-Israel rally: "Those in attendance are more concerned
about the land of Israel than the life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ." So
DeMar is able to judge the thoughts and intents of people's hearts? He continues
by saying, "The only concern of these end-time advocates is Israel and their
land." Rather than attempting to guess one's motives, as DeMar does, it is
better to look at one's deeds in relation to this issue. It is patently clear
that preterists such as DeMar are hardly known for their evangelistic efforts,
let alone Jewish evangelism. However, as historian Timothy Weber notes
concerning the rise of the dispensational viewpoint, "premillennialists were
able to stress the evangelization of the Jews while at the same time they
supported Jewish nationalistic aspirations." In fact, the heightened interest in
dispensational evangelization of the Jews has been documented in a study of the
history of Jewish evangelism. Yaakov Ariel says, The rise of the movement to
evangelize the Jews in America also coincided with the rise of Zionism, the
Jewish national movement that aimed at rebuilding Palestine as a Jewish center.
The missionary community, like American dispensationalists in general, took a
great deal of interest in the developments among the Jewish people. . . .
not surprisingly, missionaries to the Jews were among the major propagators of
the dispensationalist premillennialist belief. . . .
condemned anti-Semitism and discrimination against Jews worldwide.
The Bible and The Land
throughout the Old Testament God says that the land we know as Israel is for the
descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or the Jews. Every Old Testament
prophet, except Jonah, speaks of a permanent return to the Land of Israel by the
Jews. Nowhere in the New Testament are these Old Testament promises ever changed
or negated. In fact, they are reinforced by some New Testament passages. Walter
Kaiser notes that "the writer of Hebrews (6:13, 17-18) swore by Himself when He
made the promise: to show how immutable His purpose was." Paul says of the
promises to Israel: "for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom.
only legitimate basis for the Jews to claim a right to the land of Israel comes
from the Bible. In fact, if it were not for the biblical history of Israel who
would even know to associate the Jewish people with the land of Israel? It is
precisely because God associates the Jewish people with the land that He gave
them-located in today's Middle East-that we could even have a movement today
known as Zionism. (Zionism is the name most frequently used of anyone, Jew or
Gentile, who desires the Jews to own the Land of Israel.) Detractors of Zionism
must attempt to say that God's promise of the land of Israel to the Jews has
somehow been invalidated. My how many have tried down though the years to prove
just that! But God's Word speaks louder than their shrill voices combined.
case for Zionism rises or falls upon what the Bible teaches about Israel and the
land of Israel. It is true that a just case for Israel can be presented upon
many grounds, but ultimately it boils down to what does God think about this
matter as communicated through His inerrant and authoritative Word-the Bible.
God's Promise of the Land
Lord called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldeans and made an unconditional covenant,
or contract, with him. This contract, known as the Abrahamic covenant, contained
three major provisions: 1) a land to Abram and his descendants Israel, 2) a seed
or physical descendants of Abraham, and 3) a worldwide blessing (Gen. 12:1-3).
In order to make His point clear, the Lord put Abram to sleep and made Himself
the only signatory of the contract (Gen. 15:1-21). God told Abram, "To your
descendants I have given this land" (verse 18). Even though the Lord was the
only active signatory to the cutting of the covenant, as demonstrated in Genesis
15, nevertheless it is clear that Abraham obeyed the Lord during his lifetime:
"Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws"
(Gen. 26:5). "It is significant that the promise is related to Abraham's
obedience, not to Isaac's, as the promise now becomes immutable and certain of
fulfillment," observes John F. Walvoord. This covenant is repeated to Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob and their descendants a little over twenty times in the book of
Genesis. God's promise to the patriarchs is said to be an everlasting covenant
(Gen. 17:7, 13, 19).
promise of the land covenant is passed from Abraham to Isaac, instead of
Ishmael. The Lord told Isaac: "Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and
bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I
will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. And I will
multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants
all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be
blessed" (Gen. 26:3-4). Here we see a duplication of God's promise to Isaac's
father (cf. Gen. 12:3; 15:18).
three in the patriarchal descent is Jacob, rather than Esau. Jacob's name is
later changed to Israel, which becomes the primary name of the new nation. In
Jacob's famous dream of a stairway from heaven to earth, the Lord said, "'I am
the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which
you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants shall
also be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and to
the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants
shall all the families of the earth be blessed'" (Gen. 28:13-14). This statement
also includes a repetition of the land promise made to Abraham and Isaac and
would be passed on to Jacob's posterity, fulfilled in his twelve sons, the
twelve tribes of Israel and their descendants. Walvoord notes: A careful
study of these passages makes clear that the promise of the land was intrinsic
to the whole covenant given to Abraham. Inasmuch as Abraham became a great man,
had a great posterity, and brought blessing to the whole world through Christ,
it is reasonable to assume that the rest of the Abrahamic covenant will be
fulfilled just as literally as these provisions. The nonliteral or conditional
interpretation of these promises is not supported in Scripture.
closes with Jacob, his twelve sons and their descendants sojourning in the land
of Egypt. Exodus is the story of their deliverance from Egypt and preparation
for entrance into the land of Canaan. Even though Israel wondered in the
wilderness for forty years because of unbelief, it was there that Moses received
the Law that would become the new nation's constitution by which she would be
governed in the land.
book of Deuteronomy says at least twenty-five times that the land is a gift to
the people of Israel from the Lord (Deut. 1:20, 25; 2:29; 3:20; 4:40; 5:16,
etc.). Old Testament scholar, Walter Kaiser notes that, "sixty-nine times the
writer of Deuteronomy repeated the pledge that Israel would one day 'possess'
and 'inherit' the land promised to her."
Deuteronomy 28-30 lays out the conditions for Israel to experience blessing
within the land. We must remember that while the land was given unconditionally
to the people of Israel, the Mosaic Law provides subconditions for the nation to
enjoy God's blessings in the land. The tribulation period will be a time of
divine discipline on the nation, bringing about Israel's repentance obedience.
And then, during those grand and golden days of the millennial kingdom, she will
experience full occupation of her land, reaping the many blessings promised in
the Old Testament.
Psalms, Israel's handbook of praise to the Lord, often lead the worshipper in
thanksgiving to the Lord for His covenant promises and faithfulness. For
example, Psalm 105 says, "He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which
He commanded to a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham,
and His oath to Isaac. Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as
an everlasting covenant, saying, 'To you I will give the land of Canaan as the
portion of your inheritance'" (Psalm 105:8-11). Elsewhere in the Psalms, the
Lord declares: "For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His
habitation. 'This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have
desired it'" (Psalm 123:13-14). God's choice of providing the land of Israel for
the Jewish people has remained steadfast down through history.
Throughout the Old Testament the prophets convict Israel of her disobedience,
but always with a view toward a future restoration, when ultimately Israel will
dwell in peace and prosperity. Throughout the Old Testament the prophets provide
promise after promise of this time of future restoration to the land (Isa.
11:1-9; 12:1-3; 27:12-13; 35:1-10; 43:1-8; 60:18-21; 66:20-22; Jer. 16:14-16;
30:10-18; 31:31-37; 32:37-40; Ezek. 11:17-21; 28:25-26; 34:11-16; 37:21-25;
39:25-29; Hosea 1:10-11; 3:4-5; Joel 3:17-21; Amos 9:11-15; Micah 4:4-7; Zeph.
3: 14-20; Zech. 8:4-8; 10:11-15). A specific example of a restoration passage
can be found at the end of Amos: "'Also I will restore the captivity of My
people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them, they
will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their
fruit. I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted
out from their land which I have given them,' Says the Lord your God" (Amos
important to note that Zechariah, following the return from the Babylonian
captivity, speaks of a future restoration to the land, thus suggesting that
Israel's past restorations did not ultimately fulfill the land promise given to
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Zechariah 9-14 lays out an end time plan of
restoration of the nation to Jerusalem and the land of Israel. Kaiser notes:
"Repeatedly, the prophets of the Old Testament had depicted an Israelite remnant
returning to the land (e.g., Isa. 10:20-30) and becoming prominent among the
nations (Mic. 4:1) in the end day. In fact, Zechariah 10:8-12 is still repeating
this same promise in 518 b.c., well after the days when many in Israel had
returned from their last and final exile, the Babylonian Exile."
Further, Israel has a future in their land since nowhere in the Bible has the
Lord revoked any of His promises to His people Israel: "for the gifts and the
calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom. 11:29).
Multiple End-Time Regatherings
properly understand the end-time homecoming or regathering of the Jews to their
promised land, we need to keep in mind that the Bible predicts that Israel will
experience two worldwide, end-time regatherings to the Promised Land. The first
regathering will be partial, gradual and in unbelief, while the second
regathering will be full, instantaneous and when Israel enters into belief in
Jesus as their personal and national Messiah. Dozens of biblical passages
predict this global event. It is a common mistake, however, to lump all of these
passages into one fulfillment time frame, especially in relation to the current
state of Israel. Modern Israel is prophetically significant and is fulfilling
Bible prophecy. But when we read God's Word, we need to be careful to
distinguish which verses are being fulfilled in our day and which await future
short, there will be two end-time regatherings: one before the tribulation and
one after the tribulation. The first worldwide regathering will be a return in
unbelief, in preparation for the judgment of the tribulation. The second
worldwide regathering will be a return in faith at the end of the tribulation,
in preparation for the blessing of the millennium, or thousand-year reign of
important passage that deals with Israel's two regatherings is Isaiah 11:11-12:
“Then it will happen on that day that the Lord Will again recover the second
time with His hand the remnant of His people, who will remain, from Assyria,
Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And
He will lift up a standard for the nations, and will assemble the banished ones
of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the
earth.” (Italics added.)
return in Isaiah 11 clearly refers to the final worldwide regathering of Israel
in faith, at the climax of the tribulation, and in preparation for the
millennial kingdom. Isaiah specifically says that this final regathering is the
second one. That, of course, raises the obvious question: When did the first
regathering occur? Some maintain that the first return is the Babylonian return
from the exile that began in about 536 BC But how could this return be described
as worldwide, as set forth in Isaiah 11?
entire context is Isaiah 11:11-12:6. In this context, he is speaking of the
final worldwide regathering in faith in preparation for blessing. Isaiah number
the final worldwide regathering in faith in preparation of the Messianic Kingdom
as the second one. In other words, the last one is only the second one.
If the last one is the second one, how many can there be before that? Only one.
The first one could not have been the return from Babylon since that was not an
international regathering from the four corners of the world, only a migration
from one country (Babylonia) to another (Judea). The Bible does not allow for
several worldwide regatherings in unbelief; it allows for one worldwide
regatherings in unbelief; followed by the last one, the one in faith, which is
the second one. This text only permits two worldwide regatherings from the
four corners of the earth. Therefore, the present Jewish State is
very relevant to Bible prophecy. The following chart provides a quick visual
comparison and contrast between Israel's two great regatherings.
THE PRESENT (FIRST) REGATHERING
Return to part of the land
Return in unbelief
Restored to the land only
Man's work (secular)
Sets the stage for the tribulation (discipline)
THE PERMANENT (SECOND) REGATHERING
Return to all the land
Return in faith
Restored to the land and the Lord
God's work (spiritual
Sets the stage for the millennium (blessing)
Modern Israel Fulfills Prophecy
the modern state of Israel was born in 1948, it not only became an important
stage-setting development, but also began an actual fulfillment of specific
Bible prophecies about an international regathering of the Jews in unbelief
before the judgment of the tribulation. The following Old Testament passages
predict this development: Ezekiel 20:33-38; 22:17-22; 36:22-24; 37:1-14; Isaiah
11:11-12; Zephaniah 2:1-2 and Ezekiel 38-39 presupposes such a setting.
these things can happen, Jews from all over the world must return to the land,
just like we see happening with the modern state of Israel. This, of course,
does not mean that every Jew in the world has to be back in the land. But
it does clearly mean that many of the Jewish people must have returned to their
ancient homeland. End-time prophecy in Scripture is built upon the assumption
that Israel is both regathered to her land and is functioning as a nation.
implications of Daniel 9:24-27 are unmistakable. "And he [Antichrist] will make
a firm covenant with the many for one week [one week of years or seven years]."
In other words, the seven-year tribulation period will begin with the signing of
a covenant between Antichrist and the leaders of Israel. Obviously, the signing
of this treaty presupposes the presence of a Jewish leadership in a Jewish
nation. This Jewish state must exist before a treaty can be signed.
summarize, then, the logic goes like this: The tribulation cannot begin until
the seven-year covenant is made. The covenant cannot be put in place until a
Jewish state exists. Therefore, a Jewish state must exist before the
of all this, I believe that the main purpose for the regathering of Israel
relates directly to the peace pact with Antichrist, as described in Daniel
9:24-27. For such a treaty to be viable, the Jews have to be present in the land
and organized into a political state. And since 1948 they have been. It
is this modern miracle-something unheard of in history-that we, our parents, and
grandparents have witnessed unfolding before our eyes. An ancient and scattered
people have returned to their ancestral homeland after almost two millennia,
making the peace covenant of Daniel 9:24-27 possible for the first time since
result, the stage is set for the very event that will trigger the tribulation
and usher in the final days of the world, as we know it. Much to the
disappointment of those who are opposed to Zionist theology, the modern state of
Israel is in just such a position. This truly indicates that we are near the end
of days. Maranatha!