Let's face the facts, Israel is a semi-theocracy.
Israeli Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman Creates a Storm.
Friday, December 11, 2009
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This last week Israeli Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman created a storm, when he stated that the modern state of Israel should be based on Torah law! He does not mean the law of Moses, but Jewish religious law, which is the Rabbis interpretation of the Law of Moses.
"Let's face the facts, Israel is a semi-theocracy" was the title of an opinion piece in the left-wing Israeli paper Ha'aretz by Gideon Levy. Mr. Levy argues that Israel is already a semi-theocracy and not really a secular state at all. He quotes some rather interesting statistics to prove it, such as the fact that only 44 percent of Israelis define themselves as secular and many of these are 'traditional', which means, in his words, "religious, but just a little". Some more staggering statistics for those of us that felt Israel was a secular country are: Eighty-five percent of Israelis hold a Passover seder and sixty-seven percent fast on Yom Kippur, known to many as the day of atonement - I was surprised by that last figure! Wow, over two thirds of Israelis hold a fast for the day of atonement. Almost every boy in Israel today has a bar-mitzvah. Further, in Israel there are no civil marriages or divorces, and there are almost no secular funerals. Gideon points out the Western Wall is holy to everyone and the fact that Israel won't give up "holy" East Jerusalem is also based on religious faith. His conclusion is that most Israelis aren't so different from the ideological religious West Bank settlers and that "Israel is not what you thought".
Many people are stuck back in the early days of the state of Israel, the days of the socialist secular kibbutz. The days of the secular non-religious state. Times have changed. It was however important that Israel be established as a secular state and that the Jews returned to the land based on socialist ideals, rather than religious beliefs. In fact in the early days the Jewish religious establishment was dead set against the return to the land and dead set against using Hebrew as a language for everyday speech. In hind sight we can see that this was important, so that no one could say the Jews returned to the land because they were trying to fulfill the prophecies of the return. Trying to fulfill Biblical prophecies had nothing to do with it. So the argument that the Jews only returned because they were trying to fulfill prophecy, because they themselves caused it to be accomplished is rubbish. Yet now the nation is rapidly turning to be religious. Times have changed.
Today Jewish religious law is based on the oral law. This is the law of the rabbis - their interpretation of the law or Moses that has its roots before the time of Jesus Christ and was subsequently written down becoming the Talmud. Religious Jews today hold this law to be divine on an equal plane with the Torah, or first five books of the Bible. In light of this it is interesting that the prophet Malachi prophecies that the Jews will be instructed to remember the "law of Moses", implying that they have forgotten it in some way. God is saying forget the oral tradition of the elders and remember My law that I commanded Moses at Horeb! In Galatians the Apostle Paul wrote that the law was a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ. So it will evidently be in the future, the law of Moses will again be used as a schoolmaster to bring the nation to their king, when Israel will be a true and righteous theocracy. "And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." - Isaiah 2:3.
According to the dictionary a theocracy is "a form of government in which God or a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, the God's or deity's laws being interpreted by the ecclesiastical authorities." This is what the kingdom of God will be when it is established in Israel - a theocracy. Jesus Christ will return to the earth to sit upon the throne of the ancient Israelite king David in Jerusalem (Acts 1:11; Luke 1:32). This throne of David was the throne of Yahweh ruling over Yahweh's kingdom - Israel (1 Chronicles 29:23). In the kingdom age - Jerusalem will again be called the Throne of Yahweh (Jeremiah 3:17).
Israel will yet become much more religious than it is today. This is a subject spoken by the Israelite prophets. Isaiah said: "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise... Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified." (Isaiah 60:18,21). The prophet Jeremiah prophesied saying, "In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve." The prophet Zephaniah in chapter 3 verses 13 to 15: "The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid. Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more." Again the prophet Jeremiah: "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." - that's in Jeremiah 31:34. There is no doubt then that Israel will become more religious - they will all know Yahweh and be a light to the whole world, as the nation walks in the ways of God under the righteous rulership of the one sitting upon the throne of David.
The change of the nation from being secular to religious is a notable sign of the times. Would we not expect that if the nation is to take heed to a prophet instructing them to return to the law of Moses that they would have some interest in religious matters? Before the birth of Christ the nation was in expectation (Luke 3:15), and John Baptist came to "make ready a people prepared for the Lord", he came "in the Spirit and power of Elijah." It was Yahweh the God of Israel who had instigated a climate of expectation within the nation at that time and it was He who sent John to stir up the nation and prepare them for the arrival of their king and saviour. So it is in our day. Yahweh is still at work. He is again instigating a certain spirit within the nation of Israel, the people are being prepared to listen to the prophets that will be sent. Over many years after its birth from the ashes of the Holocaust, the nation has been subject to many troubles; being ostracized by the world, subjected to wars, terrorism, water shortages and so on. All this no doubt has played a role in causing the nation to become more religious. This is prophesied in Isaiah 30:19-21, "For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." The nation has experienced the bread of adversity and now they are turning religious. These tears are the trumpet of the Messiah, a trumpet that is sounding heralding his return. If Israel is moving towards being a people prepared for the Lord - if they are being prepared to meet the Messiah - how soon that coming must be! And this raises an important question. If Israel is being prepared, are we prepared?
This has been David Billington with you. Come back again next week God Willing to www.bibleinthenews.com.
Printed: Friday, December 11, 2009
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