Why do the nations concern themselves over tiny Israel?
World events now seem to focus on the Middle East, and especially upon Israel. Israel is mentioned in almost every news bulletin.
- Why is this tiny little nation of just 8 million people so newsworthy?
- Why is this piece of land just 290 miles (470 km) in length and 85 miles (135 km) in width so important to both Jew and Arab?
- Why have there been three major wars over tiny Israel since 1948?
- Why is there continual conflict between Jews and Palestinians?
- Why does the world dispute Israel’s claim that Jerusalem is her capital?
- Why is the UN and the media so heavily biased against Israel?
- Why are there international boycotts of Israeli goods?
- Why does the Vatican have claims on Jerusalem real estate?
Given all this unrest, how will it all end? The answer rests with the biblical role of Israel. Yes, God has a plan for the nation Israel.
God’s Purpose for Israel – a Blessing to the Nations
Some 3,500 years ago God made an unconditional covenant with His chosen servant Abram (later called Abraham). The primary part of this covenant was that through Abram’s descendants all the nations for all time would be blessed. God said to Abram:
In you all the families of the earth will be blessed (Gen 12.3)
In your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed (Gen 22.18)
So how are the nations blessed? Tracing through the descendants of Abraham we find that the tribe of Judah is given ‘royal lineage’ in terms of a scepter (Gen 49.10). This symbolized kingship and led to the royal house of David. Following the genealogies from David in the book of Matthew we come to Joseph the husband of Mary who bore Jesus. God gave Jesus the throne of David (Lk 1.32), but Jesus’ mission at that time was the reconciliation of sinful mankind to God. Through Christ’s death on the cross, everyone who believes in Him – the resurrected Christ – and follows Him is reconciled to God. Jesus said:
Salvation is of the Jews (Jn 4.22)
That is the first and foremost blessing of the nations. Israel’s primary purpose, her primary reason for existence, was to bring salvation to the world through Christ.
A Blessing on Israel: With this historic mission for Israel in view, God blessed this embryo nation – the children of Israel – as they made their exodus from Egypt under Moses. Listen to the beautiful singing of this blessing in the book of Numbers, chapter 6 verses 24-26:
A Song of the LORD’s Blessing upon Israel.
Sung in both Hebrew and English
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.“
God’s Purpose for Israel – a Witness to the Nations
People often ask ‘Where is God – where is the evidence that He exists?’ God’s plan anticipated such questions. He created a special nation (Israel) to be His witness in the world, to be His servant, to achieve His purposes, and to lift up His name amongst the nations. For example, it was through Israel’s deliverance from Egypt that God showed His presence and power. And it is through Israel’s aliyah (return to their own land) that we see God working todaty:
But now, says the Lord, … He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear … I have called you by name; you are Mine! … You are My witnesses … and My servant whom I have chosen …”
And what one nation on the earth is like Your people Israel, whom God went … to make a name for Himself
(2 Sam 7.23)
Isn’t it amazing that this small nation, Israel, has survived for over 3,500 years despite some 2,500 years of exile and severe persecution? Isn’t it amazing that millions of Jews have recently returned to the land promised to Abraham’s descendants (Gen 17)?
When King Louis XIV of France (1643-1715) asked Blaise Pascal, the great Christian philosopher to give him proof of God, Pascal answered, ‘Why the Jews, your Majesty, the Jews!’ Today, the nations are being forced to look towards Israel, whether in hatred or in support or in bewilderment. Why? Because God is working with His people and His land to make a name for Himself – see for example the amazing growth of Israel. And there is more …
God’s Purpose for Israel – a Channel for the Word of God
God chose the tribes of Israel (commonly referred to as ‘the Jews’) to be the original recipients of His word. It started with God’s Law, as in the ten commandments, and was fulfilled when Christ came (Mat 5.17). Once received, the Word of God was to spread throughout the world to all nations. So Moses commanded the Israelites to diligently follow God’s Laws:
Obey them faithfully, and this will show the people of other nations how wise you are. When they hear of all these laws, they will say, ‘What wisdom and understanding this great nation has!’ (Deut 4.6, GNT)
So the world benefited from God’s Words and Will given through Israel. For example, through the inspired scriptures they received moral and ethical guidelines for correct living, guidelines as to how to please God, explanations for the origin of man and for the observed creation, and visions/explanations of the future. The world need look no further for “truth”; it is found in the scriptures and Christ the Jew is the embodiment of all truth (Jn 14.6).
So when you are tempted to ask “what purpose Israel?” or “what purpose the Jew?” remember that it was through Israel that the nations received God’s Word:
Then what advantage remains to the Jew? [How is he favored?] … Much in every way. To begin with, to the Jews were entrusted the oracles (the brief communications, the intentions, the utterances) of God. (Rom 3.2-3, AMP)
God’s Purpose for Israel – a Light in a Darkening World
Today there is great unrest amongst the nations as they wrestle with increasing national debt, economic uncertainty, international terrorism, social unrest, overpopulation and so on. In particular, there is increasing spiritual darkness as Western nations turn away from biblical truth to humanistic ideas. For instance, the word “God” is not even in the EU Constitution, link. This scenario is prophesied, along with hope:
I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth (Isa 49.6)
For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising (Isa 60.2,3)
This text refers to the world status at very end of this age i.e. now, and ends with a brief look into the next age on earth. It says that as the nations sink into spiritual darkness they will see a light – the nation Israel. It says the LORD God will once more favour His servant Israel as she becomes His witness to the world. In the Millennial Age the nations will be attracted to the spiritual light, hope and truth as seen in Israel.
God’s Purpose for Israel – a Sign of the End of the Age
The Bible says that at the end of this age Israel will become the vortex of the world in the sense that major world events will be centered around Israel. Nations will be caught in a political vortex in the sense that they will be forced to look towards Israel. They can choose to ignore Israel and her God, but sooner or later Israel will command their attention. Why? Because God is using Israel as a sign to the nations:
He will set up a ensign for the nations and will assemble the outcasts of Israel (Isa 11.12)
This prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes. Within just 100 years the Jewish population in Israel has increased dramatically. In 1915 there were just 83,000 Jews but this increased to over 6 million Jews in 2013, link – an amazing 7100% increase! Many take Jesus’ parable of the ‘budding fig tree’ (Mat 24.32) as pertaining to the restoration of Israel immediately prior to His return, link, link. In other words, when we look at Israel today we see a people restored to the land promised to Abraham’s descendants and an indisputable sign that we are near the end of this age and Christ’s return to earth.
God’s Purpose for Israel – a Glorious Future for the Nations
Bible prophecy reveals that, at the end of this age world events will be centered around Israel. Unseen spiritual principalities and powers raged against Christ at His birth (Rev 12.4), and today they are raging against Israel by aligning nations against her (Rev 12.9, 20.8). This spiritual warfare culminates in the final war of this age (Armageddon) as all Gentile nations are gathered against Israel (Zech 14.1-3). The good news is that these events herald the return of Christ to the earth and the ushering in of an age of peace – the so-called millennial age, when Christ reigns as King from Jerusalem:
And the LORD will be King over all the earth (Zech 14.9)
These are the days when nations beat their swords into plowshares, the wolf lies down with the lamb, and the earth is full of the knowledge of the LORD (Isa 2.4, 11.9, 65.25). These are the days when Israel and Egypt and Assyria (Iraq) are one with each other and are a blessing to the world (Isa 19.24). This is the time when the land and people of Israel will be blessed above all nations, and many peoples will go up to Jerusalem to worship the LORD and keep Israel’s Feast of Tabernacles (Isa 2.2, Zech 14.16). Why? Because
Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth (Zech 8.3)
So why does Israel exist? Answer: God has a universal plan for Israel:
- Through Israel came a blessing to the world: reconciliation to God through Christ
- Through Israel came the Word of God – the inspired scriptures of Old and New Testaments
- Through Israel’s miracles, survival and restoration we can see strong evidence for God
- Through Israel we can see a sign announcing the return of Christ
- Through Israel we can see God working in the world and making a name for Himself
- Through Israel the world will enjoy peace on earth as Christ reigns from Jerusalem