David Jeremiah - The Isolation of Israel
Israel is a wonderful place that God has pointed to as a very special piece of real estate. And we're often asked in ministry, why has God chosen this group of people who reside in this little piece of real estate in the Middle East, which is 1/19th the size of California, and no bigger than the state of New Jersey? Why would he choose that people? One day, I was reading in the Old Testament, and I came across these words from the book of Deuteronomy, where God is speaking to Israel and he says, "You are a holy people to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. And the Lord did not set his love on you, nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, but because the Lord loves you, and because he would keep his oath which he swore to your fathers".
All the geopolitical issues that you and I read about in the newspapers and watch on television are pretty much explained in 3 verses of the first book of the Bible, in the 12th chapter. Listen, "Get out of your country from your family, from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation. I will bless you, and I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed". That's it, three verses from the book of Genesis. And when you study this covenant and you take it apart, you unpack it as we do when we do exposition of the Scripture, you learn so much that's helpful in keeping your head above water in the international scene.
So, let me do that. Let me just share with you some of the things that we learn from these three verses. First of all, it's pretty evident that this is an unconditional covenant. This is not bilateral. This is a covenant that is based upon the performance of one person. If you read the covenant, you will discover, as I read it to you a few moments ago, that the word "I will" is over and over and over repeated. God says, "I will, I will, I will, I will". He doesn't say, "I will if, I will when". He says, "I will". This is a covenant that depends totally upon God, and it really isn't based in the faithfulness of the Jewish people. It's based upon God. God is saying to you, "Even if you are faithless, I will be faithful to you".
And ever since that covenant was made, that has been the history of the relationship. I mean, if you read the Old Testament, you have to ask yourself, why is God so patient with these people? I would have given up on them a long time ago, and so would have you. But God doesn't give up on his promises. Isn't that good news for all of us? God keeps his promises. And so, there was no provision made in this covenant for it ever to be broken, no provision for it ever to be annulled. This was an unconditional covenant.
And the second thing you learn as you read these verses is that it was a personal covenant. Now, as we've already discussed, it was a covenant between God and the nation of Israel that would come from Abram, but it was also a personal covenant with Abram himself. God said, "I will bless you, Abraham, and I will make your name great". The pronouns "you and yours" are 11 times in these verses. God is speaking directly to the man Abraham, and he said, "You know, there's a lot of implications of what I'm going to say to you today, but I don't want you to forget this is about you and me, Abraham. I'm going to make you great. Your name is going to be great".
And here we are, 4,000 years later, and the name Abraham is still revered by the Jews, by the Christians, and by those who follow Islam. But then God said to him, "I'm going to make you a great nation". In the second verse of what I just read to you, Abraham is told, "I will make you a great nation". There wasn't anything to give him any reason to believe that from him, he would become a great nation. He was just an ordinary man that God had spoken to. And God said, "Abraham, I have a plan for your life, and that plan includes that, from you, there will be a great nation," which we now know as the nation of Israel. And the ultimate greatness of that nation is upon us, is it not?
I know that one day, all of God's promise to Israel will be fulfilled in a period of time we call the millennium, when the king comes down here and rules, and Israel will be the center of all religious discussion. But by all means, Israel is a great nation today. If you ever go there, you will come away shaking your head. I mean, for their little size, this little sliver of land surrounded by 37 nations that all want to destroy them, here is this nation of Israel living in peace among enemies. And not only surviving, but thriving. Inside Israel proper, in times of great national emergency, it has maintained freedom of press in times of war. It stands out as a singular democratic first world island in an Arab and Muslim sea of poverty and backwardness.
Right in the middle of it, that little piece of real estate called Israel, God's Promised Land. At the heart of this covenant, which we call the Abrahamic covenant, is what we would call a territorial clause, or a territorial issue. Listen again to Genesis 12:1, "Now the Lord said to Abraham, 'Get out of your country, from your family, from your father's house, and go to a land that I will show you.' And on that same day, the Lord made a covenant with Abraham, saying, 'To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates. I have given it to you and all of your descendants.'"
On that day, in that place where God spoke to Abraham, he once and for all settled the dispute over what you should do with the land of Israel. I told you if you read this covenant, it'll solve a lot of problems. Because one of the greatest debates in our culture today is about Israel. Should it be a Palestinian state? Should it be shared with Palestine? Should it be reduced, expanded? I don't worry about that because I read the source. This was not one generation. This was a covenant with Abraham for the future of his people, and God outlined the borders of the land of Israel.
I'll tell you, friend, the land promised to Abraham and his descendant, it's huge, and Israel has never occupied anything close to all the land that God gave them. If Israel were currently occupying all the land that God gave to her in that covenant, she would control all of the holdings of present day Israel, Lebanon, the west bank of Jordan, substantial portions of Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. I mean, the borders are in the Bible. You can check it out for yourself. So, when people say, "Why doesn't Israel get out of her land"? Israel hasn't even gotten into her land. Why should she get out of her land?
In the future, during the millennium, that land is going to all be expanded, and Israel will be at home in her land for the first time ever. Right now, she lives in a little portion of it, and that little portion of it is, I mean, you read about Israel in the news more than any other country in the world except for America. And it's 1/19th the size of California. I mean, it's amazing when you stop and think about it, how it's become the center of everything.
Now, here's something you can mark down if you're interested in trivia. Every single prophet in the Old Testament, with the exception of Malachi, repeats the land clause of the Abrahamic covenant, every single one. All the prophets, you name them, the minor prophets, the major prophets, all the prophets, every single one of them, there's a piece in one of their prophet's writings that remembers this promise God made to him. Why do you think God would do that? Because God knew what we're dealing with right now. God saw down into the future the debate that would come out over the land of Israel. And God knew that if we didn't see this and understand it, we would be swayed.
God promised Abraham something very specific. He defined it, he described it, he repeated it. He continued to remind everybody that the land of Israel belonged to the Jewish people. So, this is an unconditional covenant, it's a personal one, it's a national one, it's a territorial one, and it's a reciprocal covenant. Have you ever read these words? "I will bless those who bless you, and I'll curse those who curse you". I for one, even if I didn't know anything more than that, I would be writing letters to my congressman and my president saying, "Hey, whatever you do, take care of Israel because I read this thing in the Bible that says if we bless them, God's going to bless us. And I don't know about you, I can use all the help getting blessings that there is".
You don't have to be too smart to figure that out. God said it. If you bless Israel, Israel will be the reason God blesses you. And I don't have to just depend upon the Bible to prove that today. History demonstrates that. Zechariah the prophet reiterated this. He says, "Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'He sent me after glory, to the nations which plunder Israel, for he who touches you, Israel, touches the apple of God's eye, and I will shake my first against them.'" Go back in history and look at all the people who have messed with Israel, and you will see that when they try to do harm to Israel, harm comes to them. God cares about his people.
Why does he care about them? Because he promised Abraham he would, and God always keeps his promises. So, you say, "What does that mean today"? Well, I don't know if you're tracking with me, but it means whoever has the platform for any political party better have a good platform for the nation of Israel. Because if we don't deal right with Israel, we will not be dealt with God very kindly. And remember, it's not only that God curses those who curse Israel, but God blesses those who bless Israel. It's unconditional, it's personal, it's national, it's territorial, it's reciprocal, and it's universal.
Do you know that that day when God spoke to Abraham, and gave him this promise, he said something that would affect everybody in all the world for the time to come? You say, "How could that be"? Well, if you have a Bible in your hands, every book in that Bible was written by a Jew except for the books of Luke and Acts. Your Bible is a Jewish book. You wouldn't have your Bible without the promise that God made to Abraham. And if you're a Christian today, if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, your Savior is a Jew. He came from Abraham's lineage all the way through David, and he is the Savior of the world.
Listen to the book of Galatians. "That the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through him". We are blessed as Christians today because of that day when God spoke to Abraham and said, "Abraham, through you, I'm going to bless all the nations of the world". Through the written Word and through the living Word, it all came from Abraham. All the promises of the covenant are in support of this one. And then he said this is forever. This covenant is forever.
Genesis 17, he said, "'I will establish my covenant between you and me and your descendants, and I will give you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan. It's an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.' Then he said to me, 'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off. Therefore, prophesy and say to them, "Thus says the Lord God, 'Behold, O my people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put my Spirit in you, and you shall live. And I will place you in your own land, and you shall know that I the Lord have spoken and performed it,' says the Lord".'"
What did Ezekiel say? He said the bones are a picture of Israel dispersed through all the countries of the world in the graves of the Gentile nations. But Ezekiel said one day, Almighty God would speak to these bones, and they would start to come together, and the nation of Israel would arise. And they'd come out of the graves of the nations, in terms out of the nations themselves, and regather in the land, and Israel would be reconstituted as a nation. And we have lived in our lifetime to see that happen in 1948. The bones came together in 1948, and Israel was established as a nation. But the Scripture says also that once the nation was back together, there was no breath in them, no spirit in them. Breath and spirit are the same word in the language of the Bible.
People ask me all the time, "When you go to Israel, Dr. Jeremiah, is Israel back in her land in faith and in belief"? Absolutely not. What's going on in Israel today is a Zionist movement. The people have come back to the land. They love Israel, they love their Jewish heritage, but they haven't embraced our Messiah. The Messiah who is Jesus Christ is yet to be embraced. In the future, the Bible says all Israel will be saved. So, Israel is like the bones, alive, back together, but no life in him. One day, the Bible says the Lord God is going to come back, and he's going to put his Spirit in Israel. And Israel will have an incredible revival.
During the tribulation period, listen to this, there will be 144,000 Jewish evangelists out preaching the gospel, along with 2 witnesses, all of them filled with the Spirit of God. And Israel's going to come back, and they're going to see Jesus as their Messiah, and they're going to embrace him as we know the Bible prophesies they will be embraced. So, the bones have come alive, and we have lived to see it. And the reestablishment of the Jewish state has been described as the most spectacular event in nearly two millennia of Jewish history.
Six thousand miles away, President Harry Truman read a 40-word statement that was released to the world, and the United States became the first nation to recognize the birth of the modern state of Israel. The 2,500-year-old prophecy of the Bible was at last fulfilled. In a powerful speech that I heard when I wasn't supposed to be home, for some reason I just turned on the television, and I happened to hear this speech. In a powerful speech made to the assembly of the United Nations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave these words.
For in every generation, there were those who rose up to destroy our people. In antiquity, we faced destruction from the ancient empires of Babylon and Rome. In the Middle Ages, we faced inquisition and expulsion. And in modern times, we faced pogroms and the Holocaust. Yet, the Jewish people persevered. And now, another regime has arisen, swearing to destroy Israel. That regime would be wise to consider this. I stand here today representing Israel, a country 67 years young, but the nation state of a people nearly 4,000 years old. Yet the empires of Babylon and Rome are not represented in this hall of nations. Neither is the 1,000-year reich. Those seemingly invincible empires are long gone, but Israel lives. The people of Israel live.
And when I played that in my church, they got on their feet and clapped because that's the truth. God's hand is upon this nation. Look at it any way you want. I hope we would not have anyone in this room who would be classified in any way as anti-Semitic. You cannot be a practicing Christian and be anti-Semitic any more than you can be a practicing Christian and be a racist. If you are a Christian, you have to love what God loves. And God loves the Jewish people, and God loves people of every ethnic diversity. And we as Christians, if we're truly after Christ, we must be that way too.
One of my last memories of our trip to Israel was right outside of the Southern Steps. If you go to Israel, there are certain places where you can stop. And if you have a lot of people, there are certain places big enough so you can have a big crowd. And so, I speak in some of these places to all of our contingents that are on all of our 14 buses. And I had just finished speaking on the Southern Steps, which is one of my favorite places because you can look over to the right and see the place from which our Lord ascended to heaven, and to which he's going to return.
And so, I gave my message, and it was the last time I was to speak to the people before the end of the tour when we were all together. And I just told them how much I loved Israel. You have no idea how much Israel cares about the people of this nation, and what we contribute to them, and how we help them by our tourism over there. So, I gave that little speech, told everybody how much I loved Israel, and I hope they loved Israel. I said, "When you come the next time, bring somebody with you". Then we had a prayer. And I walked away from the pulpit to go to meet with the people who were with me.
And as I walked, a lady who was standing in the shadow of the place where I spoke hollered at me. She said, "Sir, sir, can I speak with you"? And my friend said, "Don't do it". But I had something in my heart that told me I needed to do it, so I stopped everybody and I walked over. She was dressed in kind of a Bedouin dressing. And she said, "I've been listening to what you said". She spoke in broken English. She said, "I just want to tell you how important you are to us". She said, "Pastor, the evangelicals of your nation are about the only friends we really have left that we can trust. So, please, please tell your friends don't forget us". And I promised her I would, and I just did.
Don't forget Israel. Don't forget what God has promised Israel. Don't forget the miraculous thing that God is doing in Israel. And whatever you do, if you have any say in the political speak of our country, make sure your leaders know you may not agree on everything, but one thing you cannot disagree about, if you want to be blessed as a nation, you bless the nation of Israel. I'm absolutely convinced that one of the reasons why, since 1948, we had such incredible years of blessing in this nation was because we put our arms around that young nation and helped them get established. As long as I have breath and opportunity, I'm going to be a champion for the nation of Israel because I believe that's God's purpose in this world today.