The Continued Witness of Israel
In a world of chaos we turn to the God of Israel who is steadfast and continues to fulfill His word.
Friday, May 08, 2020
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So much of the world is currently in chaos. Men and women are fearful for their health -even their lives. Many international relations are in tatters as governments make unilateral decisions reacting to the crisis within their own countries.
The UN and WHO desperately try to wrestle control in order to provide leadership and develop a joined up approach to tackling the pandemic, yet their efforts are so often futile. Ultimately everyone is doing what they think is right in their own eyes!
Who then do we trust? Where do we go for direction, for certainty for joined up thinking? The answer, is the Bible. Not out of sentiment for a desire to be cheered up in a time of crisis. Rather, because it provides genuine answers.
The God of the Bible has provided hundreds, thousands of prophecies that prove the authenticity of scripture. One of the greatest of them all is in the witness provided by the actions of the nation of Israel. Some 2700 years ago the prophet Isaiah was inspired by God to say:
“Ye [the Jews] are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” (Isaiah 43:10)
Therefore, when any of us need comfort that actually God is in control of the world, even in the most challenging of circumstances, such as the current pandemic, the great witness that the God of the Bible is God is shown in the nation of Israel.
So, it is to that nation that we turn our attention. In the last few months, but very markedly in the last two or three weeks, we have seen the world’s reaction to Israel’s plans to annex sections of the West Bank. What are we to make of this? It is certainly in contravention of the UN plan drawn up in 1947.
However, Israel took the land following a war in which its neighbours on their southern border (Egypt), eastern border (Jordan) and northern border (Syria) tried to wipe them out. The war is famously called the Six Day war, because in just six days and by extraordinary means the young and tiny nation of Israel not only repelled the Arab armies, but took significant land gains. From Syria they took the Golan heights. From Egypt they took the Sinai peninsula and from Jordan they took the West Bank.
Following extensive negotiations, the Sinai peninsula was given back to Egypt to control. However, Israel were unwilling to relinquish control of the Golan and the West Bank for fear of further attacks, they felt they could manage them better for all the inhabitants, including the Palestinians and they believed that historically – back in Bible times – the lands were given to them by God.
So today, these areas continue to provide major flashpoints between Israel and the Palestinians. Most of the world looks on in fury that
Israel has not reverted to the UN partition plan of 1947 and given the land over to the Palestinians. The Israeli’s with few open international friends, argue that their very existence depends on them owning and governing them.
How then, we may ask, does this provide any comfort to us, or witness to the God of the Bible? The answer of course is within the pages of scripture. It is an answer Christadelphians have long known and any serious Bible students will be aware of.
The prophet Ezekiel, prophesying some 2600 years ago, made clear that Israel would:
These are major claims. If the Bible accurately predicted these circumstances over two and half thousand years ago, then it seems very much worthwhile to turn to that book for guidance and hope at any time – let alone times such as these!
We are now over 70 years on from the establishment of the state of Israel. In fact, exactly 72 years this week (14th May). Sadly, as time moves, we tend to quickly forget the extraordinary fulfilments of prophecy.
What then did Ezekiel prophecy?
It would be easy for us to simply see this things happening and then find scriptures that seem to fit. These passages though for hundreds of years have been used to predict that these events would happen exactly as they are. Christadelphians for over 170 years have believed these things would happen.
For example, John Thomas, writing in 1849 said “There is a restoration of Jews before the manifestation [return to the earth of Jesus]… The pre-adventual [before the return to the earth of Jesus]… colonization of Palestine will be on purely political principles; and the Jewish colonists will return in unbelief of the Messiahship of Jesus, and of the truth as it is in him. They will emigrate thither as agriculturists and traders, in the hope of ultimately establishing their commonwealth.” (John Thomas, Elpis Israel, 458, 1848)
It is rather amazing that this Christadelphian was able to study his Bible and write so accurately about the return of the Jews to the land of Israel, exactly 100 years before the establishment of the state of Israel. Little wonder that Isaiah prophesied that the nation of Israel are the witness to the God of the Bible.
Further to this, writing in 1867, John Thomas said: “It may be remarked here, that there will have been a considerable gathering of Israelites upon the mountains of Israel [West Bank] before the invasion of the country by Gog, and his capture of Jerusalem.” (John Thomas, Eureka, page 1158, 1867)
Israel has not yet been invaded by Gog (Russia), this will happen in due course. However, we have seen more than a considerable gathering of Israelites on the mountains! We have seen the best part of half a million Jews settling on the West Bank – what an amazing sign.
Today, we are witnessing the anger of the international community, as Israel continues to defy them in annexing the West Bank – or the Mountains of Israel. They are angry because they say that it undermines their desire for a two state solution.
As Bible students, we know there will never be a workable two state solution in the region. No matter what the UN, the Arab nations, the EU or even Israel wants regarding the West Bank. We’re reminded again of Ezekiel’s prophecy – “I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all.” (Ezekiel 37:22)
Ultimately, the solution of peace for the region will be in the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The King of Israel and ultimately the whole world.
This is why, as Christadelphians, as Bible students, in all the chaos of this current pandemic we have great comfort and even peace. We know that God is in control of the nations. We just have to look at the news regarding Israel to be reminded of their great witness to the God of the Bible.
It is this God that we trust. It’s to His Word, the Bible that we go for direction, for certainty and for joined up thinking. We go there knowing it is true and grateful that we have a “hope as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19) - particularly in times such as these.
This has been Peter Owen joining you, for the Bible in the News.