Why Israel Matters
This is good… It is an article written by Greg Laurie, pastor at Harvest Fellowship, and one of the most admired and appreciated ministers in my personal life and perspective. I am simply presenting here in its entirety.
Why Israel Matters
by Greg Laurie
May 9th, 2015
Hardly a day goes by when we do not hear mention of the nation Israel, or the city of Jerusalem, or the Jewish people in general. Why do these people occupy such a singular position in the world today? Why does the nation Israel, which is 154th among the nations in land size, play such a prominent role in the world today? (You could fit 32 Israels in the state of Texas.)
Why is Jerusalem – not New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Moscow, or Beijing – so often mentioned? Answer – because God has chosen the Jewish people. Amos 3:2 says, “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth” (NIV). Why did God choose the Jewish people? Deuteronomy 7:7-8 says, “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you” (NKJV). Some would say that God has set aside or cast away the Jewish people, but this is not biblical. The original promises to Abraham and his descendants are not completely fulfilled.
A blessed nation
The promises to what would later become the nation Israel began with Abraham. God made very specific promises to Abraham and his descendants: “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” (Genesis 12:2-3 NIV).
And that is true; all the world has been blessed because of the Jewish people. God delivered His Word through Hebrew prophets to the Jewish people. The Jewish people have the Ten Commandments that are the basis of morality. And God gave us our Lord, the Messiah Jesus, who was a Jewish man. Our Christian faith came through a chosen people – the Jews. The gospel is a Jewish message about a Jewish Messiah given to Jewish disciples.
We Gentiles are “grafted in” to the promises God made to His people. As Jesus said to the woman at the well, “Salvation is of the Jews.” As the covenant and chosen people, the Jews have a special place in God’s heart. Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16 NKJV).
A persecuted people
This is why Satan hates the Jews and is the author of anti-Semitism – because Satan hates what God loves. The anti-Semitism that has been directed toward Jews historically by “Christians” is sinful and wrong. It wasn’t the Jews who put Jesus on the cross; it was our sin.
We see this anti-Semitism going back thousands of years. It goes back to Exodus, with Pharaoh killing Jewish baby boys. Then in Esther, we see the plot to destroy Jews by ancient Iran. Fast-forward to the Holocaust, where 6 million Jewish people died. Those who have “cursed Israel” and the Jewish people have paid a price.
Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and Rome persecuted the Jews. They collapsed as world powers. Germany, once a world power, was devastated after World War II, and justly so. Spain illustrated this on a national scale as well. In 1492, Jews were told to leave Spain or convert to Catholicism. None of their money or possessions could be taken with them. Spain collapsed as a world power.
The United States has been an example of how God can bless a nation that stands by Israel. We do not have a perfect record, as we turned away passenger ships during World War II filled with Jews and sent them back to Germany and certain death. But we did defeat the Nazis and have been, until recently, a staunch ally of Israel.
One of the reasons God has blessed the USA is because we have blessed Israel. No nation on earth has stood more closely with Israel than America over the years. America needs Israel more than Israel needs America.
A promised land
In Genesis 12:7, God says, “To your offspring I will give this land,” and in Genesis 15:18, God makes it clear what the land is: “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates” (NIV). In Joshua chapter 1, God reiterates that the land belongs to the descendants of Abraham: “And it happened after the death of Moses the servant of Jehovah, the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, ‘My servant Moses is dead. Now, therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people to the land that I will give him, to the sons of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, I have given that to you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even to the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites’” (NKJV).
Israel possessed their land but turned to idolatry, so God banished them to Babylon. After 70 years, they returned, and later we find her occupied by the Romans. This is when Jesus began His public ministry and predicted that Israel would be scattered. They remained scattered for the most part until the end of World War II. God foretold in Scripture that Israel would return to their land. Ezekiel 37 predicted that Israel would rise from graves and return to her land: “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.’”‘”
Speaking on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke from Auschwitz in Poland. He proclaimed that the return of the Jewish people to their homeland was fulfillment of prophecy.
“The Jewish people rose from ashes and destruction, from a terrible pain that can never be healed. Armed with the Jewish spirit, the justice of man, and the vision of the prophets, we sprouted new branches and grew deep roots. Dry bones became covered with flesh, a spirit filled them, and they lived and stood on their own feet, as Ezekiel prophesied.”
The return of the Jews was a “super sign” that started the prophetic time clock ticking.
Scripture promises that not only will the Jews be regathered in their land, but that they would have Jerusalem under their control as well. This did not happen until fairly recently. After the modern state of Israel was declared in 1948, Jerusalem was still divided. Jordan retained control over the old city, including the Temple Mount and most historic sites. During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli forces captured the old city, reunifying Jerusalem. The city was under Jewish control for the first time in over 2000 years! And Bible prophecy had once again been fulfilled to a T.
And that is where the “rub” comes. Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; with many Arab leaders worldwide insisting that Jerusalem and the entire West Bank are rightfully Palestinian territory and must ultimately be given back as a condition of peace. But we must understand that God gave this land to the Jewish people. They have returned, against all odds, to this land and have shed a lot of Israeli blood. They will not give up Jerusalem. Nor should they.
A focal point
The city of Jerusalem – isn’t it amazing that this tiny little city creates such a stir? More wars have been fought at her gates than any other city, even though her name means “City of Peace.” Why this hostility toward Jerusalem? Because she plays a key role in God’s plan today and tomorrow.
• Jerusalem is the nerve center of the world geographically.
• Jerusalem is the salvation center of the world spiritually.
• Jerusalem is the storm center of the world prophetically.
• Jerusalem is the glory center of the world ultimately.
• Jerusalem is the city of the past, the present and the future.
1 Jerusalem is the city of the past. This city was the capital of Israel under King David. David’s son Solomon built the first temple, and the Shekinah glory came. Jesus was crucified there as well.
2 Jerusalem is the city of the present. When the Jews formed a nation on May 14, 1948, it was a modern-day miracle. And more specifically, a fulfilled prophecy that set the prophetic clock ticking. Never has a nation been able to maintain its national identity after being scattered for hundreds of years – until Israel!
3 Jerusalem is the city of the future. It is here that world history as we know it will end. Jerusalem with be at the center of the final conflict as the battle of Armageddon rages. The Lord will enter in through the East Gate and establish His kingdom. We are commanded in Scripture to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” God says of the Jewish people, and in effect, the nation Israel, “Whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye” (Zechariah 2:8 NLT). Essentially, He says, “Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession.” That’s why we stand with the Jewish people and the nation Israel. We bless them and thank God for them.
One of my favorite books is “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom. It is the amazing story of the ten Boom family, watchmakers in Holland. They were all committed Christians. As the persecution against the Jews began, the ten Boom family took them in. The ten Booms hid hundreds of Jews to protect them from arrest by the Nazis. Betrayed by a fellow Dutch citizen, the entire family was sent to concentration camps.
Corrie’s father and her sister Betsy both died in camps. Corrie alone survived and spent the rest of her life sharing the gospel. Earlier on, Corrie recounts what it was like when Jews were rounded up by the Nazis:
“One day as Father and I were returning from our walk, we found the Grote Markt cordoned off by a double ring of police and soldiers. A truck was parked in front of the fish mart; into the back were climbing men, women and children, all wearing the yellow star. ‘Father! Those poor people!’ I cried. … ‘Those poor people,’ father echoed. But to my surprise I saw that he was looking at the soldiers now forming into ranks to march away. ‘I pity the poor Germans, Corrie. They have touched the apple of God’s eye.’”
Just like the ten Booms, we as Christians need to stand by our Jewish friends. We need to stand up for the nation of Israel. They are still God’s chosen people. God still has plans for them, and revival will break out in their nation again.