Your E-mails: March 2024

How can you say Israel is God’s chosen people? Have you seen what they’re doing in Gaza?

Ed: IT’S NOT MY PLACE here to comment on the justifications for the Israelis’ and Palestinians’ actions.

The Jews are God’s people. ‘Thus says the Lord: “If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the Lord”’ (Jeremiah 31:37). ‘I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means!’ (Romans 11:1).

The fact that Israel are God’s chosen people does not mean that He endorses what they do, or that we should endorse it. Israel’s history as narrated in the Bible was very often a tale of disobedience to God, and there’s no reason to suppose that the nation now is any less godless than it ever was. That’s not the point.

The fact remains, Israel is central to God’s purpose with the earth. ‘I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I am God”’ (Isaiah 43:12). The re-establishment of the nation in 1948 was a fulfilment of prophecy (for example Isaiah 11:11), and a key step towards the alignment of the world’s nations which will see the return of Christ (for example Ezekiel 38).

The last chapters of Zechariah’s prophecy describe in detail (albeit in picture language which isn’t always straightforward) the events leading up to and surrounding the second coming of Jesus Christ. Chapter 12 opens with the Israelis alienating world opinion to such an extent that there appears to be a multinational invasion: ‘Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it’ (vs. 2–3).

But God will intervene—by means of the promised return of Christ. And at this point Israel will have a change of heart: ‘And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn’ (v. 10).

Zechariah and other prophets go on to describe the establishment of the Kingdom of God, in which the reformed people of Israel will play a key role (Ezekiel 39:7), and all the world will be blessed with peace and prosperity (Micah 4:1-3).

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