25. Does God have a specific plan for the people of Israel which is found in Scripture?
As one reads through the Word of God it becomes apparent that God does have a specific plan for the people of Israel. This is also true for the Gentile nations and the Church. You are able to see Israel’s past, present and their future. However, it does need to be pointed out that one needs to interpret the Bible literally for this to be seen. What is the plan as spelled out in Scripture?
GOD’S PLAN FOR THE JEWISH NATION
Never has the world been more conscious of the Jewish nation as it is in our day. Hardly a day goes by, that the people of Israel are not mentioned in the news of the world. Why is this little nation so significant? The answer to that question revolves around the special plan and program that God has for them.
1. Four Hundred Year Captivity
Gen. 15:13-14 – “And God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions.”
In these verses it states that Israel would be strangers in a strange land for four hundred years. It also says that when the time comes for their deliverance, they would leave with many possessions. This is a remarkable prophecy when you consider that the nation of whom it speaks was not even a nation when it was first given. Nevertheless, God prophesies about the Egyptian bondage of Israel. To find the fulfillment of what happened after the four hundred years came to an end look in Exodus 12:35-36. Here you will find, that what God said, came to pass. When the Jewish people were leaving, they requested from the Egyptians articles of gold, silver and clothing. “Thus they plundered the Egyptians.”
2. Scattered Among The Nations
Deut. 28:64-65 – “Moreover, the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known. And among those nations you shall find no rest, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul.”
In this section of Deuteronomy, Israel was told if they were obedient to God and His commandments, they wouldn’t be scattered to the four corners of the globe. The fact that they are scattered shows that they disobeyed. The Bible speaks of several dispersions of the Jews. In A.D. 70, Titus the Roman general ordered Jerusalem and its temple destroyed, and a quarter of a million Jewish people perished. The remaining Jews continued to revolt and finally in A.D. 135 the desolation of Judea was ordered. Almost a thousand towns and villages were left in ashes. The people of Israel, except for a few scattered families who remained, were dispersed to the four winds. From A.D. 135 to present times, the nation of Israel makes her home all over the world. It wasn’t until 1948 that the Jewish people were given a homeland and the choice to return to it. These are just two prophecies that speak of Israel’s past.
PROPHECIES OF THE JEWISH NATION
From A.D. 135 to present times, the nation of Israel has made her home all over the world. Beginning in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, something began to happen. Jewish people began to return to their ancient homeland. Does this have any significance or did this happen by chance?
1. The Restoration of the Land and the Return of the People
In order for this to take place, many things needed to happen. Foremost among them was the establishment of the state of Israel. Before looking at some specific verses that prophesied the return, it will be helpful to get a brief history of Israel.
A A.D. 135 – Major scattering of the Jewish people.
A 8th. Century – Arabs took possession of the land.
A 1517 – The Turks took control of the land.
A 1917 – WWI, General Allenby conquered the Turks.
The British occupation of Palestine proved to be a dramatic turning point in the history of Israel. John Walvoord, in his book, “Israel In Prophecy” gives some very helpful insights.
“The Zionist movement was given impetus during World War I when the British Foreign Secretary Arthur J. Balfour instituted the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917, in which he stated: “His Majesty’s Government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People….” This declaration though welcomed by the Jews, was opposed by the Arabs and little came of it.
During World War II, however, due to the world-wide sympathy aroused for the people of Israel because of the slaughter of six million Jews under Nazi domination, the feeling became wide-spread that Israel should have a homeland to which its refugees could come and establish themselves. An Arab league was formed in 1945 to oppose further Jewish expansion. After World War II the British government turned Palestine over to the United Nations and under the direction of this body a partition of Palestine was recommended with the division into a Jewish and an Arab state.
On May 14, 1948, as the British withdrew control, Israel proclaimed itself an independent state within the boundaries set up by the United Nations. Before the day passed however, Israel was attacked by Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, and open warfare broke out. Both sides suffered heavily, and a series of truces began. On January 7, 1949, a general armistice was arranged in which Israel was allowed to retain the additional land secured during the hostilities. Israel itself was admitted to the United Nations.” Even today there has not been an adequate long lasting solution to the Middle East Problem. There still is no peace. This is where we are today.
2. God said that He was going to call back the Jewish people from all around the world
Ezek. 36:24 – 28 – “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My Statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people and I will be your God.”
Ezek. 11:16 – 20 – “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. And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.”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. And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.”
Although there are many other verses that could be mentioned, we will stop with these. There are some things however, that need to be pointed out that these verses clearly teach.
God is the one who is in control. He is the one who scattered them among the nations, and it is He who is in the process of gathering them back to the land of Israel, which He gave to them. The fact that God says that He gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people should settle the question of, “Who owns the land?” What we see happening in our day concerning the return of Jewish people in great numbers is a move of God. That’s not to say, that in the future there’s not going to be a return of even greater proportion.
The Jewish people are returning back to the land in unbelief. After the Jewish people are gathered back in the land, then God is going to cleanse them and give them a new heart. That’s not to say that Jews today can’t get saved that are not in the land of Israel. But, God is preparing the way for the time when “all Israel will be saved,” when Israel as a people will obey the ordinances and statutes of God.
These verses make reference to the literal nation of Israel. We see the return happening in a literal way, so why should anyone try to say that God is finished with Israel as a nation?
Only God knows for sure what’s going to happen in the future, and He has been pleased to reveal a tremendous amount of the future to us. As we will see, Israel has a specific plan that has been ordained from God Himself. We know it will come to pass, because it is God who promised it.
1. Israel in the Tribulation Period
Jeremiah 30:7 – “Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it: And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it.”
Matthew 24:21 – “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.”
What is this tribulation period? It is a seven year period that will take place after Jesus the Messiah returns for the believers in the air (1 Thes. 4:13-17). As you can see, there is a uniqueness that will characterize this time. No days before or after will be able to be compared to them. What are some of the things that will happen during this time?
A peace pact will be made with Israel for seven years, but after 31/2 years, the covenant will be broken.
Daniel 9:27 – “And he (Antichrist) will make a firm covenant with the many for one week (week of years), but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifices and grain offering…”
Peace is what Israel has been looking for, but they will be fooled into thinking that this is going to be the real thing.
During the tribulation period, all nations are going to go against Israel.
Zechariah 14:2 – “For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished, and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.”
If you stop and think about it, almost all nations are against Israel now. Even the United States, will go against Israel if our nation is around at this time. In particular, this will occur during the campaign of Armageddon. One would think that if the world would go against Israel, they would be wiped out in no time… not so. Remember, God is on their side.
God is going to save 144,000 Jewish people to do world wide evangelism.
Revelation 7:4 – “And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel.
There will be 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel that will be saved and given a special protective seal. They will travel all the world over and proclaim the gospel during the tribulation period. The results of their evangelization can be seen from Rev. 7:9.
Rev. 7:9 – “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands.”
This is quite a harvest of souls, and Rev. 7:14 proves that they were saved during this time of tribulation. It’s wonderful to see that even though this is going to be the worst time in Israel’s history, it’s also going to be one of the most fruitful.
As we continue on with this theme, we will now see that some of the brightest days lie ahead for Israel. This will be the time when all of the promises that God made to Israel will literally come to pass.
2. Israel in the Millennium
Jeremiah 32:42 – “For thus says the Lord, Just as I brought all this great disaster on this people, so I am going to bring on them all the good that I am promising them.”
During the millennium, things will go for Israel as they have never gone before. All of the covenants and the promises that God entered into with Israel will be fulfilled at this time. What is the Millennium? When the Word of God is interpreted literally, the millennial kingdom is the 1000 year reign of Jesus the Messiah upon the earth. This kingdom will be set up by Christ Himself when He returns to the earth. It needs to be said however, that before the establishment of the millennium, there will be a judgment on all of the people of Israel. The purpose of this judgment is to separate those Jewish people who were saved during the tribulation period from those who continued to reject Jesus as the Messiah (Ezekiel 20:33-38). Those who were saved during the tribulation period will enter the millennium with their physical bodies. What are some of the things that will happen during this time?
A Jerusalem will be the capital of the world.
Isaiah 2:3 – “And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways, and that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”
Jerusalem will truly be the “City of Peace,” because the “Prince of Peace” will be ruling and reigning as King.
Israel as a nation will be the center of attention
Zeph. 3:20 – “At that time I will bring you in, even at the time when I gather you together; indeed, I will give you renown and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the LORD.”
Zech. 8:23 – “Thus says the LORD of hosts, in those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” ‘ ”
What a change this is going to be. In our day, when almost the whole world is against Israel, this is going to be quite remarkable. At this time during the millennium, Israel will be the nation she was created to be and do that for which she was created to do: bring glory to God and lead the Gentiles to true worship. This time will be characterized by holiness, joy, righteousness, gladness, peace, security and much more. One of the great things that will be manifested during the millennium is God’s faithfulness. All that He promised to Israel will be realized. The Church should rejoice in all of this. The fact that God didn’t break His promises with Israel should cause us to be thankful.