Israel, A work in progress
On reading the Bible recently I came to the realisation that God is working on at least five projects. They are as follows:
1. Creation 2. Israel 3. Jerusalem 4. The Nations 5. The Church.
God has a plan for each of these that reaches into the future, so in that respect they are all very much a work in progress.
For the purposes of this article, I would like to look at the subject of Israel as a work in progress.
Despite the popularity of 'Replacement Theology' as a viewpoint, there are still numerous prophecies in the Old Testament & New Testament that have yet to be fulfilled.
As to whether God has finished with Israel or not, Jesus himself had a golden opportunity to put the record straight when his disciples asked him just prior to his ascension – 'Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’
Jesus did not write Israel out of the script, but with the answer he gave his disciples he effectively put them on the back burner because he had something else for them to concentrate on – i.e. - world evangelism.
This fits in with his prediction about Jerusalem in Luke 21:24 – 'And Jerusalem will be ruled over by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.’
And so, if Jerusalem left Jewish hands in favour of the Gentiles, it follows that when the Gentiles time is up, then Jerusalem will come back into Jewish hands.
This is exactly what happened, because in AD70 the Gentiles (Romans) removed the Jews from Jerusalem and in June 1967 Jerusalem came under Jewish control again and remains so until today.
This all fits in with what Paul said to the Roman church and particularly in Romans chapter 11. In that chapter, Paul makes it abundantly clear that God has not cast away his people in verses 1 and11. Then in verses 12,15 and 24 he confirms that.
v12 – “Now if their (the Jews) fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fulness?”
v15 – “For if their (the Jews) being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”
v24 – “For if you (Gentiles) were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree (Israel), how much more will those, who are natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?”
The in v25 Paul explains the time lapse between their fall and their restoration.
He says first that Israel has been blinded temporarily, but only until the full number of the Gentiles has come in – at that point all Israel will be saved in fulfilment of God's covenant with them.
There is another key prophecy that still awaits final fulfilment and that is found in Zechariah 12 where we read – “Then they will look on Me whom they have pierced, Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
This prophecy was only partially fulfilled when Jesus hung on the cross according to John19:37 where we read – “They shall look on him whom they pierced.”
However, on this occasion the Jews were not mourning for him as Zechariah predicted, but rather they were mocking him in his death.
Therefore, we have to look for another fulfilment of Zechariah's prophecy and this we find in Revelation 1:7 - “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye shall see him, even they who pierced him and all the tribes of earth will mourn because of him. Even so, Amen.”
This wonderful and long awaited reconcil-iation between Jesus and his brethren has already been parallelled between Joseph and his brothers. Remember how Joseph was loved by his father, but rejected and hated by his brothers?
Then fast forward and Joseph is now in Egypt and now promoted to second in command under Pharaoh to oversee the storing of food during the seven years of plenty. When the seven years of famine began, Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to get food and when Joseph met his brothers the first time, they did not recognise him, however when they met him the second time, he revealed himself to them.
They were shocked and petrified and feared for their lives, but Joseph assured them that whilst they meant what they did to him for evil, God actually meant it for good. In other words, Joseph saw the bigger picture and so was able to forgive them.
What an amazing reconciliation, what an amazing scene as the past was washed away and a whole new beginning opened up for them.
We can say with great assurance on the authority of God's word that God has not finished with Israel by any means and he is watching over his word to perform it. God is good and faithful to all his promises.
Mervyn Tilley – FOI Chair
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