Shalom from Jerusalem, the capital of Israel!
Here are three questions I hope you will be able to answer WITHOUT getting any help:
- How many countries can you name?
- How many capital cities of those countries can you name?
- Which country and capitol does the Bible mention the most?
I’m sure most of you included Israel and her capital Jerusalem in your list.
Israel is one of the smallest countries in the world. She is about the size of New Jersey in the USA. She ‘s just a blip on the map in the Middle East. Yet even though she is so small most people have heard of both Israel and Jerusalem.
It’s true that most people might know her name, BUT many people do not know very much about Israel. AND very often what they do know is not true.
YET every person AND every country in the world has been and is being affected in some way by Israel.
So we continue to ask,
Our answers are in the Bible starting with a man called Abraham.
Most of you probably know about Abraham. He was a great man of faith.
The Bible describes Abraham in many ways:
- Abraham was a friend of God.
- Abraham was the father of the Jewish people.
- Abraham was also the father of many nations.
- Abraham was considered righteous because He believed God.
Abraham is the key to our question “Why?” :
You see God made some promises to Abraham.
Those promises are the reason why Israel is so important and significant to every other country in the world.
The promises are first mentioned in Genesis 12:2-3. God said to Abraham”:
« I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (NKJV)
God continues in Genesis 12:7
Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said,
“To your descendants I will give this land.” (NKJV)
THE UNIQUE NATION OF ISRAEL
Yes God was going to make a great nation from Abraham. Of course Abraham would have many children and out of those children would come many nations. But the promise was that Abraham there would be ONE nation that would be unique.
It’s important here to understand that nation would not be better than all the other nations, but it would be special .
This nation would have a very special relationship with God and a very special purpose in God’s plan for the world. That nation would be God’s witness to the rest of the world. (Isaiah 43:10) They would give witness (testimony) and BE a witness of God’s character:
- His goodness
- His power
- His justice
- His holiness
Above all else, this nation would be a witness or proof of God’s faithfulness.
Most of the time that nation would disobey God and God would have to discipline them. But God would never never never take His love away from them. And that nation continues to be a witness to God’s faithful love.
What was, what is that nation? Yep, Israel.
BLESSINGS FOR ABRAHAM
Let’s look at those other promises.
God promised to bless Abraham personally. Abraham became very rich and very strong. He was very respected and many kings were afraid of him.
« I will make your name great. » (NKJV)
Abraham’s name was very great then and even today we all know about Abraham. Three religions claim him as their father: the Jews, the Muslims and the Christians!
Next God promised that Abraham would be a blessing to others:
« You will be a blessing to others. » (NKJV)
Abraham was not only very rich, he was very generous to his family. When his nephew lot was kidnapped, Abraham went to war to rescue him. Abraham won the war and got a lot of territory and he let Lot choose what part of the land he wanted. Lot wasn’t so generous and he chose the best part!
A PROMISE AND A WARNING
Next God told Abraham that through him and his descendants, every nation could either be blessed or be cursed. We see from history, that the responsibility of choice for the nation went to the leader of that nation, not the individual people!
« I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you. » (NKJV)
Although the choice of blessing or curse was made by the leaders of the nations, we are all affected by their choice. We are affected individually and nationally to this very day. And as national leaders change and their choices change, the result on the nation changes from blessing to curse.
Of course prayer can affect everyone.
When a leader blesses Israel, the result is that God blesses that nation.
But when a nation choses to « curse » Israel it means God must curse that nation. It’s not that Israel has such power, it’s because of the uniqueness of the God’s relationship with Israel; God judges every person and every nation by the way they treat Israel.
So what does it mean to “curse” Israel? Well the Hebrew word means « anything that makes ‘light’ of, makes fun of, to disgrace, or to say bad things about. »
Listen because this is very important.
God judges every person and every nation by the way they treat Israel.
So that means every person and every nation has a choice – blessing from God or curses from God. The choice is simple; it just depends on how they will treat Israel and the Jewish people.
If a person or a nation blesses Israel and the Jewish people, God will bless them. If they do not bless, if they choose instead to curse Israel and the Jewish people God will do the same – curse that person or that nation. This blessing or cursing has been happening for hundreds of years.
BLESSING TO THE WORLD
Amazingly after God gave the nations a promised blessing or a curse, He then promises that through Abraham the entire world would be blessed!
« And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (NKJV)
It’s hard to imagine that this tiny country would be a blessing for the entire world – for all of time. How can one little nation be such a huge blessing?
Of course. JESUS, who Israel and Hebrew speakers call YESHUA!
- Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a small village in Israel.
- His mother was Jewish.
- Although God was His actual father, his stepfather Joseph was also Jewish.
- Both Mary and Joseph were descendants of King David, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham.
- Every promise God gave to this tiny nation and people regarding salvation, deliverance and redemption was fulfilled by and through Jesus.
Yeshua (Jesus) is the promised Messiah of Israel!
And through Yeshua, the entire world was blessed.
There were many other blessings that came from the Jewish people. In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul reminded us of the blessings that God originally gave to Israel, the Jewish people, that through them has come to all who believe in Yeshua as Lord and Messiah.
- the adoption to sonship;
- the divine glory,
- the covenants,
- the receiving of the law,
- the temple worship and
- the promises.
- the patriarchs, and
- from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, (Romans 9:4-5 NIV)
THE FINAL PROMISE TO ABRAHAM
A few verses later, God gives another promise to Abraham. There has been no argument about the other promises, but this singular promise has been and continues to be fought against to this very day. Christians, Jews, Muslims and even nations all ignore, deny, or contradict God’s promise.
“I will give this land to your children after you.”
This promise is the one that confuses so many people
– the land of Israel.
On the day that God made a covenant with Abraham God repeated the promise of the land:
And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying:
“To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— » (Genesis 15:17-18 NKJV)
And then years later, as God instructed Abraham to circumcize his sons as a sign of the covenant between them, God repeated His promises:
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:1-8 NKJV)
So we must recognize exactly to whom the land was promised. Certainly to Abraham. But it was also promised to his descendants. « He had many children » you correctly ask. So then we need to look further.
God repeated the same promise to certain descendants of Abraham: to Isaac and then to Jacob. These are the specified inheritors of the land.
There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar.
Then the Lord appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”
And finally to Jacob:
Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I amwith you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” (Genesis 28:10-15 NKJV)
God promised Israel a particular area of land – not because of anything that Israel did, but because of God’s purposes for Israel. And because God is faithful and NEVER ends, His promises will never end – even this promise about the land will never end. It will not end because of what Israel does nor doesn’t do. It will not end because what other people try to do.
THE LAND IS PROOF OF GOD’S FAITHFULNESS
Throughout Israel’s history, there were times when God sent the people out of the land. These exiles were always a result of Israel’s disobedience to God. Consider that…when Israel disobeys, when she rebells against God, she is sent out of the Land of Promise. This shows that living in the land promised to Abraham is both a privilege and a responsibility.
But the fact that israel still exists as a land, a people and a nation is a witness and testimony to God’s faithfulness to His promise to Abraham.
Here are some of God’s promises regarding the land of Israel.
If God could break His promises to Israel, why should YOU trust Him?
The fact that Israel still exists and Jewish people are living there is PROOF of God’s faithfulness to you and to Israel.
Today Israel has only a small portion of that land and even what they have other nations are trying to take away! But God warned the nations that anyone who tries to divide the land will be judged and punished. (Joel 3:1-2)
IS GOD’S CHOICE OF ISRAEL FAIR?
So now maybe you’re asking, “Is God fair to choose one man over another? Is God fair to choose one nation over another?”
People have always been asking if God is fair?
I can make it simple. God can do anything He wants to do because He’s God. The Bible says
- God’s judgments are true (perfect, fair) (Psalm 19:9)
- No one can hinder God in His judgment (Job 11:10)
- His judgments are righteous (Psalm 9:8)
When someone asked Paul that question he said:
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion. (Romans 9:14-15)
Instead of us being jealous of Israel, it’s important to understand that God has a special purpose for every nation. Each nation has a choice whether to follow (or not to follow) God’s plan and purposes.
Remember God chose YOU! The Bible says that God chose you to know and love Him even before you were born!
God chose us to belong to Christ before the world was created. He chose us to be holy and without blame in his eyes. He loved us. So he decided long ago to adopt us as his children. He did it because of what Jesus Christ has done. It pleased God to do it. All those things bring praise to his glorious grace. God freely gave us his grace because of the One he loves. (Ephesians 1:4-6)
The Bible also says that God created you carefully and even wrote down every day of your life in His book. You know how much sand there are on the beaches all over the world? Well He thinks about you more times than the number of that sand!
You created the deepest parts of my being. You put me together inside my mother’s body. How you made me is amazing and wonderful. I praise you for that. What you have done is wonderful. I know that very well.
None of my bones was hidden from you when you made me inside my mother’s body. That place was as dark as the deepest parts of the earth. When you were putting me together there, your eyes saw my body even before it was formed. You planned how many days I would live. You wrote down the number of them in your book before I had lived through even one of them . (Psalm 139:14-16 NIrV)
One last word, God has a plan and purpose for your life. Listen again to what the Apostle Paul said about YOU!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV)
So let’s not resent God’s choice of Israel for His plans, instead let’s participate in that plan. How? Bless her by praying for her. Rejoice when you see God fulfill His promises to her.
WHO OR WHAT IS “ISRAEL?”
Maybe it’s time we make sure we understand what we mean when we talk about Israel. It can get a bit confusing. I’ll try to explain.
Israel is a nation.
Remember God said that He would make Abraham into a great nation.
“Nation” is a political word. It is a group of people with a government that makes laws. A nation has a shared culture and a language. A nation always has firm borders – borders that other countries recognize. Other countries may not like those borders, but other countries recognize them.
Israel is a people – the Jewish people.
Even though Abraham had other sons, Isaac was called “the son of promise.” Isaac would be the son through whom God would develop Israel. Isaac had twins – Jacob and Esau, but God would bring Israel through Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons – all of them became leaders of Israel. Soon God gave Isaac and Jacob the same promise about the land of Israel for the nation and the people of Israel.
Why did God choose Isaac instead of Ishmael? Why did God choose Jacob instead of Essu? Because. God is God. The Bible says that God can do whatever He pleases. Fortunately because God is so good, whatever He pleases to do is also good!
Very often when God describes Himself He calls Himself, “The God of Abraham, Isaac AND Jacob.
Eventually God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Soon the “Israelites” were called “Jews” from the tribe of Judah.
Throughout the Bible God makes it very clear that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (the Jews) would always be His “chosen” people. – chosen for the purpose of being His witnesses. Sometimes they would be sent out of the land of Israel and scattered all over the world, but they would always be His people. Eventually God would bring them back to the land of Israel.
Israel is a land.
The meaning here is obvious. Land means land. When God talks about Israel or Tel Aviv or Jerusalem He means a specific place on the map. We should not take the promises God made about the land of Israel and say that it belongs to another country or city. Jerusalem is NOT Washington, DC or Paris, or London!
Because of God’s very special relationship and plan for Israel He doesn’t make a difference between the nation, the people or the land. In God’s plan Israel, (the Jewish people) need to live in the land of Israel and be a nation knowing and loving Him and their Messiah Jesus. We don’t see that happening today, which is why we are praying!
WHY DO SO MANY PEOPLE HATE ISRAEL?
Hatred of Israel (and the Jewish people) comes from Satan. It started in the Garden of Eden right after Adam and Eve disobeyed and ate the forbidden fruit. God said:
The Lord God spoke to the serpent. He said, “Because you have done this,
“I am putting a curse on you.
You are cursed more than all of the livestock
and all of the wild animals. You will crawl on the ground.
You will eat dust all of the days of your life.
I will put hatred between you and the woman.
Your children (seed) and her children (Seed) will be enemies.
Her son will crush your head.
And you will crush his heel.” (NIrV)
The seed of Satan are all the “fallen angels,” who rebelled against God and are now called “demons.” The demons are the enemies of God, of Israel and the ultimate Seed of the woman.
Who is the seed of the woman?
First we see that the “ seed ” of the woman is Israel – (through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) – the Jewish people. But the ultimate “ Seed ” of the woman who would come from the Jewish people and crush the head of Satan is Jesus.
Jesus would crush the head of Satan but Satan could only crush Jesus’ heel. You can live with a bruise on your heel, but you cannot live if your head is crushed.
When did Satan crush Jesus’ heel? On the Cross. When did Jesus crush the head of Satan? When Jesus rose from the dead. The final crushing of Satan will come later.
So Satan has always tried to destroy the Jewish people. I guess he figured if he could get rid of the Jews then Jesus couldn’t come. Well Jesus DID come. But that hasn’t stopped Satan. He’s still trying to destroy the Jews so Jesus won’t come back!
Over the thousands of years Satan did everything he could to destroy the Jewish people.
- The Pharaoh of Egypt tried to kill all the Jewish boys
- Haman also tried to wipe out the Jewish people in his country
- King Herod also killed all the little boys when Jesus was born
People are still trying to kill all the Jewish people.
Think about something:
What would people believe about God and the Bible if Satan did destroy the Jewish people or take away their land? It would make God a liar.
That’s why it’s so important we understand who and what is Israel and pray that ALL of God’s promises to her will come to pass.
SO WHY DO WE PRAY?
First, because God told us to:
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.”
For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, “Peace be within you.”
Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek your good. (Psalm 122:6-8)
Jerusalem, I have stationed guards on your walls.
They must never be silent day or night.
You who call out to the Lord must not give yourselves any rest.
And don’t give him any rest until he makes Jerusalem secure.
Don’t give him any peace until people all over the earth praise that city . (Isaiah 62:6-7)
Because praying for Israel is the best way to bless her:
I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you . (Genesis 12:3)
Because we are sure that God hears and will answer our prayers.
There is one thing we can be sure of when we come to God in prayer.
If we ask anything in keeping with what He wants, He hears us. (1 John 5:14 NIrV)
And because it’s important to pray for your nation to bless Israel so they will not be judged:
When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations and will enter into judgment with them…on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land. (Joel 3:1-2)
…or he who touches you touches the apple of His eye . (Zechariah 2:8)
THANK YOU FOR JOINING HUNDREDS OF JEWS AND CHRISTIANS AROUND THE WORLD WHO ARE PRAYING AROUND THE CLOCK FOR ISRAEL AND THE NATIONS.
MAY GOD RICHLY BLESS YOU IN THE NAME OF YESHUA JESUS.[Note: All Scriputres are taken from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted] [/col]