Having answered our first 3 questions regarding End Times in my last post (1). Tribulation, 2). Rapture and 3). Millennial Kingdom) this post will seek to give some insight into question 4: Israel and the Jewish people – are they still part of God’s plan or have they been replaced by the church?
From my studies of Scripture I must conclude that Israel and the Jewish people are still very much a part of God’s redemptive plan. In fact, I believe they hold a central place in God’s End Time storyline.
OLD TESTAMENT EVIDENCE
To start with here’s a very ordinary verse in 1 Samuel 17 which when examined in light of other passages has stunning ramifications in regards to an understanding of End Times . 1 Samuel 17:54 says, And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem… This verse comes in the story of David and Goliath. David has cut off the head of the giant but instead of burying it after the battle he picks it up and carries it approximately 40km (Valley of Elah to Jerusalem) to the gates of a city Israel hasn’t yet captured. I can imagine a traveler walking in the opposite direction to him on the road asked, “Woah, man, what are doing with that head?” And I can only imagine then that he must have thrown it at the gates of the city. What on earth? What a strange thing to do. Yet as we pull in some other verses we begin to catch a picture of the profound revelation David had received from God even before he became king of Israel.
Psalm 48: 1-3 says about the city of Jerusalem – “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, In His holy mountain, Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.”
Then in Isaiah 62: 1-2 we read this again about Jerusalem, “For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name.”
David threw the head of Goliath at the gates of Jerusalem as a prophetic act declaring that one day it would be the city of the Great King, the city where Jesus ruled and reigned upon the earth.
The very first thing David did when he became king of Israel was to return to Jerusalem and capture it. David, from his days tending sheep on the hills of Bethlehem, had a revelation that God had chosen the city of Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people, as His eternal capital and dwelling place on the earth. This speaks to the continuing significance of the Jewish people in God’s redemptive story line from Genesis to Revelation (see previous post for details).
As Mike Bickle says,
NEW TESTAMENT EVIDENCE
Moving to the New Testament, Jesus proclaims this over Jerusalem, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not will! “See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matthew 23:37-39) The desire of Jesus for the city and people of Jerusalem, the Jewish people, is evident in these verses as He prophesies that He will return when that city finally proclaims Him as her messiah. Jesus links the city of Jerusalem and the Jews to His return.
Next in Matthew 24 when describing the unique events of the End Times Jesus says this, “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” The abomination of desolation is first prophesied about in Daniel 9:27 (see also Daniel 11: 31 and 12:11) and speaks of an idol set up in the Jewish temple by the antichrist marking the beginning of a time of great, worldwide persecution against Christians and Jews. It is further evidence from the lips of Jesus that Jerusalem and the Jews are a central part of the End Time narrative.
Finally, in Romans 11 Paul warns Gentile (non-Jewish) believers about the danger of ignoring the Jewish people as a key part of God’s redemptive storyline.
Verse 1, 2: I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.
Verse 13, 14: For I speak to you Gentiles…if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh (Jews).
Verse 17, 18: And if some of the branches (Israel) were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree (Gentiles), were grafted in among them…do not boast against the branches.
Verse 24, 26: For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature (Gentiles), and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree (the Kingdom of Heaven), how much more will these (Jews) be grafted into their own olive tree…And so all Israel will be saved as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them…
Verse 29: For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable…
Verse 33: Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
It is clear from these passages that there is a yet a glorious redemptive storyline God has for the Jewish people. They are His beloved ones even as we, the Gentile church, are and since most of Israel does not yet know Jesus as Messiah we have a debt to pray for them and preach the gospel to them.
What I have presented here is only a taster into the revelation about Israel and her part in the End Times that is available in the Bible. This is meant to be an encouragement for you to delve into the topic yourself through books and the Bible. Our understanding of God’s heart and plan for Israel and the Jewish people is a key part in understanding the Gospel of the Kingdom and the End Times (see previous post for details).