One of the hallmarks of the very last days is that “many will travel to and fro, and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:4). The last 200 years have seen an information explosion unparalleled in human history, and this trend shows no sign of abating. Today it is easy to jump on a plane (apart from security checks!) and travel effortlessly across continents and time zones.
Yet the New Covenant Scriptures tell us that knowledge by itself is not enough. Paul says that knowledge puffs up, while love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1). Yeshua noted that there is something called “the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:11) which God gives to some and withholds from others. Even some experts in the Scriptures were rebuked by the Messiah, when He said, “Woe to you experts in the Torah. For you have taken away the key to knowledge!” (Luke 11:52). Knowledge they had, but a spiritually sensitive heart was lacking.
Even today it seems that it is possible to know a fair amount of information about a biblical subject, but to miss out on God’s heart on the matter. Is it possible that one can have a lot of biblical knowledge about Israel, while at the same time miss out on God’s heart on the matter?
God’s heart for us as believers worldwide is that we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, and become mature people, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Messiah (Ephesians 4:13). An indispensable last days key in this maturation process is surely receiving a revelation of God’s heart for Israel and acting on it.
Facts are stupid things
President Ronald Reagan once proclaimed, “Facts are stupid things” at the 1988 Republican National Convention. Though many pundits thought that Reagan was misquoting John Adams (“Facts are stubborn things”), the President’s quote reminds me of the essay “In the laboratory with Agassiz” (http://philosophy.lander.edu/intro/introbook2.1/x426.html), which was required reading for seminary students in Bible Study Methods classes.
In this real story, Professor Louis Agassiz insisted that one of his biology students keep examining the body of a dissected fish. He required the student to come back to him with ever increasing observations about how the fish was fashioned, what were its specific and peculiar characteristics – until the student began to become aware of physical facts that had avoided his initial hurried glance. For the student, this meditation/observation was key to a breakthrough in his personal understanding of scientific research. Only focused and studious observation would lead to deeper understanding and revelation. What was required of the student was a passion for the truth and a heart to gain a more mature perspective.
Professor Agassiz said, “Facts are stupid things – until brought into connection with some general law.” In this newsletter we are looking at facts about Israel, but the general overarching “law” here is the heart of God for His Jewish people.
Deep Blue and the Prophetic
In 1996 IBM presented a supercomputer nicknamed Deep Blue, which simultaneously played six chess games against world champion Garry Kasparov. Though Kasparov did defeat Deep Blue, one year later he lost out to its successor Deeper Blue. Kasparov then called foul, and protested that some humans were secretly reprogramming Deeper Blue during the games, introducing a flesh and blood dynamic in support of the cybernetic side.
Students of the prophetic Scriptures could learn something from this story. Kasparov was stressing that digital discernment is not enough to win. Something human – a heart, a mind – is what separates an unthinking IBM machine from a living, breathing, caring human being.
Similarly, an obsessive compulsion to tag and then catalogue every biblical prophecy in exact chronological order of future fulfillment will not necessarily reveal God’s heart about those events. It is even possible to have amazing eschatological acumen while functioning with a hollow (or shut-down) heart – and totally missing the big picture!
Eschatological facts can become “stupid things” when eviscerated, to paraphrase Agassiz. Let us move beyond a simple knowledge of the existence of biblical prophecies concerning Israel, and on to a greater maturity in grasping God’s heartbeat for that nation – as revealed through the prophetic portions of the Bible.
I regret to say that some believers have a detached heart regarding Israel. Their thought (and heart) processes would unfold something like this: they correctly observe that many in Israel turned away from following the Davidic dynasty (1Kings 12:16-19), or turned away from honoring the prophets (Jeremiah 7:25-26), or again turned away from embracing King Messiah Yeshua when He came at His first appearing (Matthew 23:37-39).
As a result, these believers relate to Israel with a sense of offense, turning a cold shoulder and an even colder heart away from the Jewish people. This attitude is often blended with a false sense of spiritual superiority, “We Christians are not like these bad Jews. We follow Christ and we obey the truth. But as for these people, they obviously don’t!”
From this skewed perspective, when tragedies happen to the Jewish people – like the Holocaust, pogroms, or Arab wars of annihilation waged against Israel – these brothers and sisters often respond, saying that we can be assured that such evils were prophesied against Israel in Deuteronomy 28, and that these events demonstrate that Israel is still not redeemed – that we are not yet in the decisive period of God’s favor for the Jewish people.
As well, many would add that God cannot allow Himself to show any real favor to Israel until He has totally “broken the power” of His own set-apart yet stubborn people (Daniel 12:7). Such believers would be hesitant about openly admitting that God is in the process of restoring His Jewish people to Zion. The present State of Israel, for these believers, might or might not have any theological significance or divine value.
For these believers it seems easier to theologically explain attacks against the Jewish people and their state, than to support the Jewish people and their state against such attacks. When anti-Semitic assaults are more easily justified than pro-Jewish restoration efforts, something is definitely wrong with this picture.
Just in judgment, just in restoration
The prophets agreed that one day Israel would be exiled to Assyria and Babylon because of sin and rebellion (Jeremiah 50:17). Even the nations of the world would look at the Exile and draw the same conclusion (Ezekiel 36:19-21). Yet the God who was just in His judgments on Israel is also just in His prophesied restoration of Israel: “Hear the word of YHVH, you nations, and declare in the coastlands afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel shall gather him, and protect him as a shepherd protects his flock’” (Jeremiah 31:10).
God’s heart is not permanently frozen in anger against Israel, neither are His compassion’s “stuck in a moment”. Though God has had to judge sin among His people with severity, He is also burning with deep love for the Jewish people: “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I surrender you, Israel? … My heart is upside down, and all My compassions are aflame!” (Hosea 11:8).
Restoration is a verb
We are all witnesses. We live in the day when God is restoring Israel to her promised homeland. Isaiah 11:11 promised that God would restore the Jewish people to their land a second time. The first return was in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. The second return began in the 1850’s and has increased to a flood in our day. Scriptures such as Jeremiah 16:14-15 indicate that the return of Russian speaking Jews from the land of the North (directly north of Jerusalem – the former USSR) in our day is a prophetic portent of a full return of all the exiled Jewish people to their Promised Land – even if they now live in fairly pleasant circumstances in Western countries.
As we observe with our own eyes this process of return and restoration, we also remember that there will be earth-shattering judgments on all the planet, including on the Jewish people. Nevertheless, we are eyewitness of perhaps the most astounding regathering of any nation to its homeland since time began.
To glide along this river is exciting and also a bit challenging. God is in the middle of a biblical restoration process! And how do we respond to that process? Do we take a passive “couch potato” perspective, issuing theologically bland, monosyllabic, non-committal and politically correct comments? Do some of us even hesitate to affirm what God is doing in this Jewish restoration – by withholding our prayers (Isaiah 62:1, 6-7), our comforting words (Isaiah 40:1-2) and our actions (Isaiah 59:16-21)?
There is a price to pay for those who stand with this prophetic message. For a war is currently being waged between the forces of jihadi Islam (a battle supported by nearly every Islamic country) on one side, and those supporting the restoration of the Jewish people and their state-in-process on the other.
The prophetic Scriptures let us know that the battle to destroy the Jewish people and their state will intensify, until the whole world gets involved (Zechariah 14:1). Highlights will focus on attempts to invade the borders of Israel (Ezekiel 38:8-18), to divide Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:1-2) and to establish by international diktat new borders for the land of Israel (Joel 3:1-3). There will even be false and brazen attempts to claim that the land of Israel is actually occupied Arab land (Ezekiel 36:2-7; Psalm 83:1-12; etc). At that time, Jeremiah 30:13 says that nearly no one will be found to plead Israel’s case in the courts of world opinion.
In Jeremiah 30:15-17 God prophesies that He will again have mercy on Zion and restore her to her ancient land. But as for those nations who say that God no longer is ardent in His love and care for Israel, or that YHVH is not involved in restoring Israel to her Promised Land, the Lord promises that those nations will be destroyed by their own anti-Semitic plots, and that these peoples will be visited by the very judgments they attempted to bring on the Jewish people.
As we stand on the walls in intercession, prayer and petition, we need to connect the dots and not fail in our courage. We who follow Yeshua the Messiah recognize that God is working on Planet Earth, and that the restoration of the Jewish people to Zion in our day is the most prophetically significant event of the past 100 years. We are not sunshine patriots and summertime soldiers. It is time to stand up and be counted!
We appreciate you. Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the enablement of God to us in the work he has called us to do. Thanks for standing with us!
In Messiah Yeshua,
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