Last week we looked at how God deals with nations and how we as individual believers are to respond. This week we will look at the third point of application in more depth – how to pray for and stand with the nation of Israel per God’s purposes as seen in Scripture. With the situation in the Mideast today we as believers need to understand God’s purposes for Israel and stand with them in prayer. I quote from last week’s lesson: “God promises to bless those people who pray for and care for the Jewish nation and His purposes for that land and people. This is not because of the goodness of the Jewish people in Israel or elsewhere in the world, but we are to agree with and pray for God’s unconditional promises He made to them for the glory of His Name.” “For the LORD will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the LORD has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.” (1 Sam. 12:22) We see this even more clearly in Ezekiel: “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. 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. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 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. 36:22-28) Note that verse 25 states that it is after God re-gathers the Jewish people back to the land in unbelief in Jesus “then” He will save them as a nation (“house of Israel” – v. 22).
As we see here in Zechariah and below from Daniel, two-thirds of the Jews will perish in the Tribulation (in unbelief) and the remaining one-third will turn to Jesus as Messiah. “And in all the land, says the Lord, two-thirds shall be cut off and perish, but one-third shall be left alive. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined and will test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will hear and answer them. I will say, it is My people; and they will say, The Lord is my God.” (Zech. 13:8-9; also see Zech. 12:10) Daniel’s prophecy is a sweep of history including the Tribulation (Daniel 9:20-27; 11:36-12:1) and the salvation of the remnant of Jews who receive Christ as a nation as seen here in Daniel 11:44-12:3: “But then news from the east and the north will alarm him (speaking of the Antichrist) and he will set out in great anger to destroy and obliterate many. He will stop between the glorious holy mountain (Jerusalem) and the sea and will pitch his royal tents. But while he is there, his time will suddenly run out, and no one will help him. At that time Michael, the archangel who stands guard over your (Daniel’s i.e., Israel) nation, will arise. Then there will be a time of anguish greater than any since nations first came into existence (the Tribulation). But at that time every one of your people whose name is written in the book will be rescued. Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.”
Some churches teach what is known as Replacement Theology stating that because of Israel’s sin and disobedience, the Nation of Israel has been rejected by God and replaced by the Church. From the Scriptures above in the OT (plus many more) and Romans 9-11 in the NT it is clear that “all Israel will be saved” at the end of the Tribulation and that the 1000 years of the kingdom of Messiah is to be taken literally (see Revelation 20; Isa. 11:1-11; Jer. 31:31-34; Joel 3:17-21; Amos 9:11-15; Micah 4:1-5; and for an in-depth study in the OT and NT see: http://www.themillennialkingdom.org.uk/TheOldandNewTestamentPropheciesofChristsMillennialKingdom.htm). This is when the Father’s promise to His Son is realized on earth: “Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession.” (Psalm 2:8) I have attached a link from Joel Rosenberg’s Epicenter Conference on this subject. It is a video of a panel discussion and gives a good summary/teaching about the error of Replacement Theology. (Copy and paste this link in your browser: http://epicenterconference.com/media/videoPlayer/epicenter_2012_panel_discussion)
Here are a few Scriptures and some comments that can guide us in our understanding and our prayers for the people and land of Israel:
“The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen. 12:1-3)
“For behold, in those days and at that time, When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.” (Joel 3:1-3)
“In a desert land he found him (a metaphor about Israel), in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple (or pupil) of his eye.” (Deut. 32:10) “Whoever touches you (Israel) touches the apple of his eye.” (Zech. 2:8) “On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move (or divide it), but they will only hurt themselves.” (Zech. 12:3) This means that if we do not pray for and work for God’s purposes for Israel/Jerusalem it is like poking God in the eye and hurting ourselves when He responds to protect His people and land.
“For if you (Gentile believers) have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and against nature grafted into a cultivated olive tree (brought into God’s covenants with the Jews/Israel), how much easier will it be to graft these natural [branches (Jews who receive Jesus as Savior) back on [the original parent stock of] their own olive tree. Lest you be self-opinionated (wise in your own conceits), I do not want you to miss this hidden truth and mystery, brethren: a hardening (insensibility) has [temporarily] befallen a part of Israel [to last] until the full number of the ingathering of the Gentiles has come in, and so all Israel will be saved. As it is written, The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will banish ungodliness from Jacob. And this will be My covenant (My agreement) with them when I shall take away their sins. From the point of view of the Gospel (good news), they [the Jews, at present] are enemies [of God], which is for your (Gentile believers) advantage and benefit. But from the point of view of God’s choice (of election, of divine selection), they are still the beloved (dear to Him) for the sake of their forefathers. For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable (i.e., His calling and gifting for Israel seen in Genesis 12:1-3).” (Rom. 11:24-29; Isa. 59:20-21) Though God’s call on the nation of Israel is irrevocable each individual Jewish person still has to choose to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and the one-third spoken of in Zechariah 13:8-9 above will do so. (Romans 3:23-24)
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. “May peace be within your walls, And prosperity within your palaces.” For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, “May peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.” (Psalm 122:6-9)
From Scripture we know that peace will not come to Israel/Jerusalem until Jesus’ second coming when He, the Prince of Peace, is welcomed by the Jewish people as a nation at the end of the Tribulation. Both Daniel and Paul in 1 Thessalonians describe the false peace that is the last among many in the history of Israel that is broken at the mid-point of the Tribulation. “The ruler (Antichrist) will make a (peace) treaty with the people (Israel) for a period of one set of seven (years), but after half this time (3 ½ years), he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him.” (Dan. 9:27) “But as to the suitable times and the precise seasons and dates, brethren, you have no necessity for anything being written to you. For you yourselves know perfectly well that the day of the [return of the] Lord will come [as unexpectedly and suddenly] as a thief in the night. When people are saying, All is well and secure, and, There is peace and safety, then in a moment unforeseen destruction (ruin and death) will come upon them as suddenly as labor pains come upon a woman with child; and they shall by no means escape, for there will be no escape.” (1 Thess. 5:1-3) Paul is speaking of what is seen in Daniel 9:27 when the Antichrist breaks the false peace and sets himself up as God and “in a moment unforeseen destruction (ruin and death) will come upon them” (in the last half of the Tribulation).
So how are we to pray for Jerusalem/Israel? Passionately, continually and persistently until God completes His work and makes Jerusalem the pride of all the earth. “Take no rest, all you who pray to the LORD. Give the LORD no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.” (Isa. 62:6-7) This means we are praying for Jesus’ second coming along with the apostle John: “Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20) (See http://www.prayerforallpeople.com/jerusalem.html for additional prayers for Israel/Jerusalem.)
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. How can we know that God will protect Jerusalem/Israel against its hostile enemies? And why will He protect her?
2. When Paul (by the Holy Spirit) says that “all Israel will be saved” who is he referring to and when will this happen?
3. What is Replacement Theology and what Scriptures disprove it?
4. How does the Millennial Kingdom also disprove Replacement Theology?
5. How does God respond to those who try to divide Jerusalem and hurt the “apple of His eye” ?
6. When will Jerusalem/Israel have true and lasting peace? What is our part in the meantime?
7. What is your main take away from the message and how can you apply it to your life?