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Commentary

An Aliyah family of four, soon to be six!

Each of the 1,000 new Jewish immigrants the ICEJ has brought to Israel over recent months has a unique and meaningful story on their journey “home.” For Serguei and Tatyana Fraerman and their daughters, Olga and Elizabeth, the actual trip took only four days—but their journey to Israel has spanned eleven long years. 

On May 12, the Fraerman family was placed on a specially chartered “evacuation flight” from Moscow bound for Ben Gurion Airport, with Tatyana 32 weeks pregnant with twins. It was still the height of the global coronavirus lockdown and their flight was the last opportunity for her to travel due to medical reasons. Her advanced pregnancy required a lot of extra paperwork and much persuasion with airport authorities, but they made it. 

“In my mind, I expected that I would give birth in Israel,” Tatyana recounted. “But due to the situation with the coronavirus, our flight had been delayed over and over. The time came closer and closer when I would be forbidden to fly, and we began to lose heart. How could this be?"

“Then suddenly, as if a gift of fate, we received word that our flight to Israel was scheduled. Suddenly there were suitcases, packing of things, making arrangements. Everything happened instantly!” 

“My parents died when I was nine years old, and at that time, I did not know about Aliyah,” said Serguei. “I knew my relatives lived in Israel, but I did not know if I could go there. Only at the age of 29 did I learn this was possible and began the process of repatriation. Then I met my spouse, our first daughter was born, then the second, and another stage in our life [began] with its own day-to-day problems.” 

Although the application process turned out to be long, they continued to collect all the necessary documents for moving to Israel. 

Then they learned that Tatyana was not only pregnant, but expecting twin boys. This became the pivotal moment... “We wanted the children to be born in Israel,” Serguei insisted. Yet with the Israel Embassy closed for quarantine and all airlines grounded, it appeared the dream was not to be, but then events began to unfold miraculously. 

“First, I want to thank the Israeli consul for accepting our appointment during quarantine. Even though the Embassy staff were not at work, we submitted passports through the guards, and then the consul called me on the phone. He congratulated us on being approved and apologized for not being able to inform us in person,” recalled Serguei. “Then we received a letter that our departure will be on May 12.” 

Describing his first moments in Israel, Serguei said: “At Ben Gurion Airport, we were immediately met by ICEJ staff and the Jewish Agency. Our children were presented with gifts and sweets, and we were photographed. Everything seemed to happen very quickly. l had not slept for two days before that, packing our luggage."

“To come to Israel was like a call in our blood,” he said. “Here I feel at home. Although we haven’t even traveled or walked around yet, I have many friends and relatives here. This is a good country. This is a safe place for children, and it is paradise on earth.” 

“I would like to thank the ICEJ for assisting us to make Aliyah. You help people make their dreams come true. Thank you so much for your support,” said Tatyana. 

This is now a happy and hope-filled family ready to embrace their future here in the historic homeland of their Jewish ancestors. Serguei and Tatyana are grateful to everyone who have helped them along the way.   

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Why are so many Jews suddenly wanting to make Aliyah?

Rather than bringing Aliyah to a halt, the Corona crisis appears to be producing a surge in interest among Jews worldwide to move to Israel, and the question is why?

Israeli and Jewish Agency officials are estimating that as many as 90,000 Jews will immigrate to Israel over the next 18 months. That would be nearly double the average annual rate of Jewish return to Israel over the past decade.

In the United States alone, the number of applications by Jews seeking to immigrate to Israel in May 2020 was three times higher than in the same month last year.

There are several factors driving the Aliyah wave at present, but one of the primary reasons is the clear sense that Israel has done well so far in handling the Corona pandemic.

Looking only at the world’s Jewish population, the difference between Israel and the Diaspora communities on the Corona response is quite stark. Israel is home to some 6.6 million Jews and yet it has seen only around 300 deaths so far due to the Coronavirus, whereas an estimated 10,000 Jews have died from the virus to date in Europe and North America, where the Jewish population is just over 7 million.

Thus, Israel is increasingly viewed as being safer due its better health system than many other Western countries with significant Jewish communities. This is especially true when it comes to elderly residents of traditionally Jewish retirement homes and communities, which were hit especially hard by the Corona outbreak in the New York area.

Israel’s economy also is seen as stronger and more able to recover from the impact of the pandemic. Many Israeli workers placed on temporary layoffs in March and April are back at work, although unemployment remains abnormally high and incoming tourism is still blocked.

Israel also has shown its unique national resiliency over recent months. This is a people who have become accustomed, unfortunately, to facing a myriad of crises over the decades – including wars and natural disasters – and thus they know how to collectively pull together and respond.

Despite almost 18 months of political deadlock and three failed elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also took firm command of the nation’s battle against the “unseen enemy” of COVID-19 and even counselled other national leaders on how to deal with the global health menace. Polls instantly gave him a decisive boost for truly taking the reins in confronting the viral threat.

Finally, there are growing concerns among Jews worldwide about the sharp rise in antisemitism over recent months, as many are falsely blaming the Jewish people for the Corona pandemic as well as for the racial tensions rocking the US and many other nations right now.

This may be a bigger factor in the Aliyah surge than many realize. YNET published an article this week about the current Corona-related wave of anti-Semitism, calling it “an unprecedented phenomenon.” The article lamented the litany of rancid claims of late, such as charges that Jews poison wells, spread the virus with deliberate coughing, use it to kill Palestinians, and intend to take over the world through the pandemic.

The article cited a special study on anti-Semitism just released by a Tel Aviv University research center which revealed that there have been hundreds of recent instances worldwide of classic antisemitic charges and actions attributing the Coronavirus to Jews and Israel. The TAU report found that "Corona antisemitism" is not just showing up in the Middle East, but much of it comes from the United States, Latin America and Europe – where almost 20% of those recently surveyed in England blamed the spread of COVID-19 on Jews.

The recent Black Lives Matter protests in the US have added another poisonous ingredient to the antisemitic brew. In one shameful example, several white Hollywood elites bent over backwards in recent days to prove they are not racist towards blacks, yet in the process they deeply offended Jews. Chelsea Handler, Jessica Chastain and other A-listers re-tweeted or liked an old video clip of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan decrying racial prejudice, which meant they were ignoring his long record of blatant antisemitic outbursts. Farrakhan has called Jews “satanic,” compared them to “termites,” accused them of controlling the government and Hollywood, and also called Adolf Hitler a “great man.”

And now, a leading Labour politician in the UK has just erroneously claimed that George Floyd died at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis because Israeli security services have trained American police forces in the technique of using knee pressure to break the necks of detainees.

No wonder Jews around the world are starting to get very uncomfortable with their surroundings. Thus, the dramatic increase in the number of Jews applying to make Aliyah in just about every Jewish community abroad – from St. Petersburg to Sydney to São Paulo. This is another decisive moment in the modern saga of the Jewish return to Eretz Israel, and Christians must be at the ready to help bring them home.

Join us in bringing more Jews back home!

We Are Becoming a “Post-Truth” Society

Coronavirus Shutdown Update

The coronavirus shutdown has meant an incredible amount of stress for many people—either from losing a job or working from home while homeschooling children and cooking three meals a day. Some funny videos have been circulating that make light of the multitasking required and the many pets who stole the show during video conference calls!

We at the ICEJ have certainly mastered the art of working remotely as we have not just continued our ministry but have been busier than ever. Our May 2020 Word From Jerusalem magazine reports on our many activities in Israel and around the world.

At the same time, we are busy building new communications and educational tools to have a greater impact for Israel in the future. The world will never be the same after this pandemic, and our challenge is to stay on top of the many changes in communications and operations that are developing.

We Are Becoming a “Post-Truth” Society

One change taking place in our world that preexisted the pandemic but has become quite noticeable during this time is the world’s progression toward a “post-truth” society. The proliferation of “fake news” has made us suspect all news. The subversive actions of the “deep state” have caused us to lose trust in our government. And the politicians who demonize the other rather than band together for the good of the country have made us lose respect for elected officials. It is becoming difficult to discern what is even true anymore.

This is a very serious situation as it leaves many people confused and vulnerable to misinformation, intentional disinformation, and conspiracy theories. In this atmosphere, anti-Semitic theories will run rampant, and more people will believe them.

Those of us involved in supporting Israel have been up against “fake news” for decades. In fact, the case could be made that the Jewish people were the first target of fake news, such as when accused of the blood libel in the Middle Ages, blamed for the bubonic plague in the fifteenth century, or said to be sub-human by the Nazis. This history teaches us when rumors and conspiracy theories spread unchecked, it is dangerous for the Jewish people.

In fact, a recent study uncovered that over half of American Jews have either witnessed or directly experienced anti-Semitism during the past five years, and 63 percent feel less safe than they did a decade ago. This is happening on our soil, and we must do something about it.

A Revolutionary Act . . .

A quote that keeps coming to my mind about this may have originated with George Orwell and says, “Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.” We are moving quickly toward a time of universal deceit and must be prepared to speak the truth. It is a spiritual battle that we must fight in prayer, but it is also a battle of words, and we must be courageous enough to speak the truth.

It is the church that can stop anti-Semitism from gaining more ground in the United States, but we must begin at home. Dangerous trends within the American church are opening the door to anti-Semitism, and we must address them. I speak more about this in my article "Does Christian Anti-Semitism Exist?"

So, while there may have been a coronavirus “shutout,” there was no “shutdown” for the ICEJ! We are busy assisting the needy in Israel during this crisis but are also preparing for the future and the dangers that lurk ahead. Please stand with us in prayer as we pray for you and your families—for your protection, health, and strength. If you ever have a personal prayer request, feel free to contact us as we pray regularly for you.

Thank you for your generous partnership during this critical time. I realize that some of you are giving at a time of great personal need. May the Lord bless you as His Word promises, and may he provide for you an abundant harvest from all the seeds you have sown into His work (Luke 6:38).

— by Susan M. Michael, ICEJ USA Director

The ICEJ is working hard to represent your Christian love and support for the people of Israel. We are also preparing the communications and educational tools to defend the Jewish people and support Israel like never before. Your prayers and partnership are critical. Please stand with us, and let’s walk into tomorrow together.

Born In A Day

As Israelis marked their 72nd Independence Day on Wednesday (29 April), many Christians saw this as a time to celebrate the faithfulness of God to His promises. Meantime, other Christians joined with the Palestinians in remembering the day of Israel’s national rebirth as the Nakba (Arabic for “disaster”).

Indeed, much of the Christian world still struggles with the theological significance of Israel’s stunning re-emergence as a nation on May 14, 1948. Some churches have slowly come to terms with the extensive biblical credentials behind the promised ‘restoration of Zion,’ but others still cling to antiquated doctrines about the Jews being cursed to endless wandering, and Israel being totally replaced by the Church as God’s redemptive instrument in the world.

We were given a recent reminder of these lingering antisemitic attitudes within Christian circles when headlines appeared last week reporting that the Danish Bible Society has just published a new translation of the Bible which removes dozens of mentions of “Israel” throughout the Old and New Testaments. In many places, the “Land of Israel” becomes the “land of the Jews.” Elsewhere, the word “Israel” is replaced with “us”, such as in Psalm 121:4: “He who watches over us [Israel in the original] will neither slumber nor sleep.”

In the face of criticism, the Danish Bible Society has offered as its defense that the costly and time-consuming translation was necessary to meet the demands of many Danish Christians who were uncomfortable in reading a version of Scripture which might lead some to confuse Biblical Israel with the modern state of Israel. In other words, they do not want to be confronted by God’s word in their political views, so they change the sacred to protect their secularized beliefs.

Timeless Truth
In all the Bible, the calling and election of the nation and people of Israel for the purpose of world redemption is presented as an enduring truth. Further, the modern-day Jewish return to the land of their fathers testifies to the faithfulness of our covenant-keeping God.  

In Genesis, the Patriarch Abraham was promised not only a “seed” to bless all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3, 22:18), but also the physical land of Israel as an “everlasting possession” for his natural descendants (Genesis 17:8). Thus, both the land and people of Israel were irrevocably chosen for the purpose of world redemption (Romans 11:29).

Although most Christians rightly focus on the promise of a “Seed” to redeem the world (Galatians 3:16), the land promise is equally vouched for in Scripture. For instance, the Psalmist refers to it as a sworn “statute” – using a Hebrew word meaning a decree carved in stone, like the Ten Commandments (Psalm 105:10).

So even though the Lord exiled the Jewish people from their land for predetermined seasons as a corrective measure, they never forfeited their underlying title deed to the Land of Israel. And He has vowed to deliver the entire land to them one day in abiding rest and peace (Exodus 33:14; Jeremiah 30:10; Jeremiah 46:27; Hebrews 4:1, 9).

The Hebrew prophets were servants of God’s sworn covenants with Israel, revealing how the Lord would use the relationship between the land and the people of Israel to carry out His salvation purposes for all nations. When one reads the writings of the Old Testament prophets – with their odd mix of poetry, fury, compassion and despair – the key to understanding their ministry is to realize that every prophetic utterance has to fit within the terms and conditions of the covenants already established by divine oath with Israel’s Patriarchs – Abraham, Moses and David.

Thus, the words of warning flowed from the prophets’ anguish that Israel was in breach of the conditions God placed on their right to reside in the land. Yet their accompanying joy was in realization that God nevertheless was duty bound to return them to the land again one day.

Even so, some Christians contend that the two prophesied Jewish exiles and returns were completed in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, and that Old Testament promises of an end-day ingathering and exaltation of Israel back in her land were fulfilled in the birth and ‘triumph’ of the Church. In challenging Christian Zionists, they argue that the New Testament is basically silent regarding the ‘land,’ and thus Christians have scant biblical basis to support the secular State of Israel.

Yet there are numerous clear references to the Land of Israel in the New Testament – as the Danish Bible Society has apparently discovered to their chagrin. This goes beyond just mentions of the “land,” and includes every reference to the covenants or ‘promises made to the fathers’ – meaning the Patriarchs – because they necessarily include the land. It is not implied or inferred, it is intrinsic, since the land is subsumed or embedded into the terms of God’s covenants with Abraham, Moses and David.

In Romans 15:8, the Apostle Paul says that even Jesus came “to confirm the promises made to the fathers” – which inescapably includes the land promise. Then in Hebrews chapter six, New Testament believers are urged to take “strong encouragement” that God will always keep His promises to us, simply by observing His faithfulness to the Abrahamic covenant. Thus, if we see the Almighty bringing the Jews back to their promised land, we can rejoice in God’s faithful character and trust Him to keep His every promise to us as well under the New Covenant.

In addition, New Testament writers and figures, including Jesus, repeatedly invoked the Jewish hope of a future ‘restoration’ of their sovereignty in the land, a widely held concept drawn from numerous promises in Scripture about restoring the “fortunes” (or “captivity”) of Jacob/Israel. This Jewish hope was so prevalent in those days that the words “for the redemption of Zion” or “the freedom of Zion” were even imprinted on many Judean coins in the First Century.

It was these times of favor or ‘restoration’ for Israel that the Apostle Peter alludes to when he boldly declares that the “times of restoration of all things” spoken of “by the mouth of His holy prophets” will indeed come before Messiah returns (Acts 3:21).

Isaiah 66:8 ponders, “shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” The modern-day restoration of Zion indeed has proven painful thus far for many – Jews and Arabs alike – and more has yet to be birthed. But the reappearance of a sovereign Jewish nation in their ancient homeland is truly cause for Christians to rejoice in a God who is ever faithful to His promises.

Purim 2019: The Rise of an Ancient Hatred

Around the world, Jewish people are getting ready to celebrate Purim, the festival instituted by Mordecai as recorded in the Book of Esther. In Israel, throngs of party-goers will spill out into the streets to joyfully remember their deliverance from the evil Haman and his accomplices who sought to wipe out all the Jews of Persia. It’s a lot of fun if you ever get the chance to participate!
 
This year, however, there is much to be concerned about given the appreciable rise of anti-Semitism around the globe and specifically in the United States of America. like the United Kingdom, the United States has long been considered a safe haven for Jewish communities outside of Israel. Unfortunately, in recent years, the number of anti-Semitic attacks have increased in the USA with the F.B.I. disclosing that in 2017 over 50% of all religiously motivated hate crimes were directed at Jews. Added to this is the fact that the UK and the USA have now witnessed the previously unthinkable rise of politicians who openly embrace anti-Semitic positions.
 
In the UK for instance, former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has warned that Jews would feel compelled to leave the country should the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn come to power. In the United States, a “Jexodus” movement has begun imploring Jews to abandon the Democratic Party following oft repeated anti-Semitic rhetoric from Junior Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. These clearly anti-Semitic statements by her have been met with only a half-hearted rebuke by her Democratic Party colleagues.

Lessons from Persia

Ezekiel 35: 5 warns of an “ancient hatred” harbored against the Jewish people that ultimately seeks their destruction. We see this in the story of Esther where Haman sought to wipe out the Jewish people for the supposed crime of being faithful to the laws God had given them.
 
The Talmud teaches that Haman rejoiced when he saw that the Pur (lots) he threw to determine the date of the Jews’ destruction had fallen on the month of Adar because that is month of Moses’ death. Driven by a desire to supersede the law-giver, Moses, Haman developed his theory of Jews holding a dual-loyalty, thus making them untrustworthy citizens. Sound familiar? It should, because here’s a recent quote from Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.):
 
“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country”
 
Omar was referring to Jews, specifically those working for AIPAC, and accused them of seeking to expand their supposed dual-loyalty to the State of Israel. This is nothing less than classic anti-Semitism, repeated in history as illustrated in the Dreyfus Case in France that helped spark Theodore Herzl’s Zionist movement, and the devilish Protocols of Zion which fueled the pogroms of Eastern Europe and Russia, focing thousands of Jews to flee to Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century.

Lessons from Egypt

In a month’s time Passover will be remembered by Jews all around the world by which they will celebrate their deliverance from yet another tyrant, Pharaoh, who enslaved them and attempted to murder all their newborn male children for fear that the they were becoming too powerful. Through the centuries, Jews in the diaspora were forced into occupations considered less reputable, in areas such as finance and loans. When they succeeded, they were then accused of using their financial power to wield undue influence upon the nations in which they found themselves.
 
Once again, Omar has unfortunately provided us with a modern-day repeat of this old canard. She has claimed that Israel has “hypnotized the world” and suggested that AIPAC pays off politicians to buy their support of Israel. She seems to have bought into this dangerous fallacy that the Jews are secretly using money and dark means to control the world behind the scenes.
 
While Omar’s anti-Semitic comments have been broadly denounced, there has unfortunately been an attempt by some to excuse her comments as well-founded but poorly worded. The notion is that while criticism of Israel is valid, it just needs to be done in a more sensitive manner. This is nothing less than a Trojan Horse designed to provide cover for an extreme position on Israel and implicate every Jew in the West as complicit with Israel’s alleged crimes.

Lessons from Europe

Studies have shown that in Europe especially, anti-Semitic incidents rise exponentially when Israel is forced to respond to another round of Hamas’s violent targeting of her civilian population with rocket barrages. Jews in Europe are held directly responsible for what is perceived as injustice by Israel when they act to significantly weaken Hamas’s ability to attack her citizens. The exporting of this disturbing mindset to the United States is truly disturbing and should be confronted in uncompromising fashion lest it take root and start to fester.
 
Some might say that criticism of Israel is valid. Fair enough, but when the intent of that critique is to repeat blatant lies, whether claiming her defense against rocket attacks constitutes a genocide or her security measures to limit terrorist attacks from the West Bank amount to Apartheid, we should realize that the goal is not to engage in open debate,  but rather to falsely paint Israel as an evil regime that needs to be dismantled. Any Jewish support in the West for Israel is therefore deemed a dangerous impediment to this hideous goal.

An Evangelical Response

Despite all this bad news, the good news is that Israel and the Jewish people do not find themselves alone this Purim. Millions of Bible-believing Christians around the world understand the special place the Jewish people hold in God’s economy, having thoroughly rejected the kind of classic anti-Semitic tropes that even invaded the Church through such erroneous constructs as Supersessionism and Replacement Theology.
 
Indeed, many Evangelical Christians read the story of Esther and understand that Mordecai’s reminder that she had been called “for such a time as this” resonates today, compelling them to take a stand for Israel and the Jewish people in the places God affords them a voice. And if ever there was a time when that voice was needed, it is now.

— by Daryl Hedding, ICEJ US Deputy Director

As anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world, you can be a blessing and encouragement to the Jewish people. Let them know that they are not alone. The ICEJ is your partner in supporting Israel, teaching truth, and promoting justice for the Jewish people.

False Teachings of the End Time


“For false christs and false prophets will rise and
show great signs and wonders to deceive, 
if possible, even the elect.” 
Matthew 24:24


 

A. Truth

There is no doubt that one of the great signs of the end time is the re-emergence of the state of Israel on the stage of world history. This is a sign without precedent, as it constitutes the first time in over two thousand years that the Jews have sovereignty over Jerusalem again. Jesus placed this reality in the basket of His signs pointing to His second coming (Luke 21:24). He also stated that in the days in which this miracle occurs there would be world-wide upheaval, wars and rumors of wars and the arrival of a perilous time, such as the world has never seen before, called the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21). Israel on the very brink of annihilation at the hands of a global attack will be saved out of this tribulation physically and spiritually (Zechariah 12:1-10). This spiritual salvation will be the “trigger mechanism” for the return of Christ to the Mt of Olives. That is, Israel’s recognition of Jesus’ messianic credentials will bring about what Paul called “resurrection from the dead”. This means that the Church of all ages will come out of their graves and, together with living believers, will rise to meet Christ as He comes again in great power and glory to place His feet on the Mt. of Olives (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
 
This picture that I have painted above is the one that scripture gives us and it is the one that was embraced by the early Church. The blessed hope of the Church is not a renovated world system because of some great end time revival but it is indeed, and only, the second coming of Jesus (Titus 2:11-13). The present world is actually passing away (1 John 2:17) because it is an “evil age” (Galatians 1:3-4) and God is determined to bring it down and He will. Every city and nation will be brought down as God visits the planet with what scripture calls the Day of the Lord (Revelation 16:19)(Joel 3:9-17). Our hope is not in the man made systems of this world but in the living God who by His glorious Gospel has saved us and given us a longing for a new heavens and a new earth wherein righteousness will dwell (2 Peter 3:13). You need to be assured of this: That we are approaching a global upheaval the likes of which the world has never seen before and, as the prophet Daniel stated, wars and desolations are determined until the end! This is not an eschatology of pessimism but one of hope because it is anchored in the truth of God’s word and in the promised coming of Christ.
 
The documents of the Early Church, that is the very Church founded by the Apostles themselves, testify to this understanding of scripture. Here below is a sample of these writings all of which were written before the fourth century.
The Epistle of Barnabas
“The final stumbling-block approaches. We take earnest heed in these last days; for the whole time of your faith will profit you nothing, unless now in this wicked time we also withstand coming sources of danger; as becometh sons of God. That the Black One (Antichrist) may find no means of entrance, let us flee from every vanity, let us utterly hate the works of the way of wickedness.”
Justin Martyr  
“The man of apostasy shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us Christians….”
The Shepherd of Hermes
“Happy ye who endure the great tribulation that is coming on.”
The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles
“For the whole time of your faith will not profit you if you are not made perfect in the last time. Then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and perish; but they that endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself.”
Irenaeus
“….and they shall give their kingdom to the Beast and put the Church to flight.”
 
“But he (John) indicates the number of the name now, that when the man comes we may avoid him, being aware who he is.”
Hippolytus
“Now concerning the tribulation of the persecution which is to fall upon the Church from the adversary (The Antichrist). That refers to the one thousand and three score days during which the tyrant is to reign and persecute the Church.”
Tertullian
“Now the privilege of the favor awaits those who shall at the coming of the Lord be found in the flesh, and who shall, owing to the oppressions of the time of Antichrist, deserve an instantaneous death which is accomplished by a sudden change to become qualified to join the raisings saints..”
The Constitutions of the Holy Apostles
“…for through the abounding of iniquity the love of many shall wax cold. For men shall hate, and persecute, and betray one another. And then shall appear the Deceiver of the world, the enemy of the truth, the prince of lies, whom the Lord Jesus shall destroy with the spirit of His mouth, who takes away the wicked with His lips; and many shall be offended at Him. But they that endure to the end, the same shall be saved..”

B. False Truth

In recent years a new message is being preached by Evangelicals, Pentecostals and neo-Pentecostals and this message is false but it is being accepted and embraced everywhere and essentially it states that much of Matthew 24 and the other great eschatological passages of the Bible have been fulfilled and now we await a great end time revival that will actually transform nations, rehabilitate all spheres of human endeavor and usher in peace and then, and only then, Jesus will come again. This is actually Kingdom Now or Dominion Theology or Postmillennialism built on the foundation of Preterism (The belief that all of Matthew 24 etc. has been fulfilled by past historical events)(1). Indeed many of the propagators of this error are telling us that a soon coming spiritual revival in Israel will bring resurrection blessing and power to the nations thus sweeping multiple millions into the Kingdom of God. All of this sounds very triumphant and wonderful but in reality it is a false teaching and in fact a very dangerous one at that because it is based on a totally false exegesis of Romans 11:15 and thus does not prepare Christians for the great trials that are about to come:
 
“For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”
 
This “life from the dead”; otherwise translated as “resurrection from the dead”, means exactly what it says in that, according to Paul, Israel’s spiritual recovery will trigger the literal and real resurrection of the dead and usher in the visible second coming of Jesus. “Life from the dead” means then that all the saints of all of history will come forth from their graves to meet Christ in the air as He descends to the Mt. of Olives. It is to be noted that Paul’s teaching in this regard is further clarified in verses 25 and 26 of the same chapter. That is, it is only after the fullness of the Gentiles has been gathered in that Israel gets saved; not before, and consequently the Deliverer (Savior) will “come out of Zion.” Meaning that Zion or a Jewish Jerusalem brings Christ back to the earth. Jesus in fact said that this would be the case (Matthew 23:37-39)(Luke 13:34-35).
 
The fullness of the Gentiles is completed before Israel’s acceptance of Jesus’ messianic credentials and not afterwards as these false teachers assert! So then there are not two “fullnesses of the Gentiles” in scripture; only one. To teach otherwise is a contradiction of the context and is just nonsense and yet this is exactly what is being taught with the expectation that the nations will get saved in a manner never seen before after Israel comes to faith. This is not true. Israel is not a catalyst for a world-wide revival. If anything she is a catalyst to save the world from utter destruction as her spiritual restoration brings the King of Kings back to the earth at a time when things are so bleak and dark that God has to shorten the time in order to save humanity from total annihilation (Matthew 24:21-22).
Furthermore, those propagating this error frequently support their error by quoting passages from the Bible that refer to the coming Messianic Reign of Christ or what is known as the Millennium. That is, these passages describe global conditions after Jesus has come a second time and not before. Sadly the unsuspecting unable to “rightly divide” scripture buy into this error and so one such passage is Isaiah 2:2-4:
 
“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains
and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say,
‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge
between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
 
Again, this picture of peace and absence of conflict only applies to the age to come or to what the Bible calls the “regeneration” when Christ sits on His glorious throne ruling and judging the nations with a “rod of iron” (Matthew 19:28)(Revelation 12:5). The consummation of our age will be characterized by global conflict, on a scale never seen before, the falling away or apostasy of millions of Christians (2Thessalonians 2:3), great natural disasters and upheavals, the persecution of the Church, the rise of a new Hitler or Beast, who will be destroyed by the second coming of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:8), (2) and the Great Day of the Lord. In fact Jesus warned that the situation will deteriorate rapidly, just as an expectant mother experiences a growing intensity in her birth pangs, and that consequently those days will have be shortened lest no flesh survive on the earth (Matthew 24:21)! This is not a picture of some great global revival but in fact just the opposite and, if we do not prepare ourselves for it, we may well fall away or, worse still, give our allegiance to a new global order actually driven by Satan himself and characterized by great signs and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9)! Jesus, concerned about the state of the Church in the world in the end time, wondered whether He would find the faith on the earth when He comes again (Luke 18:8).
 
The picture I have described above is not pessimistic but biblically realistic and anyway our hope is not in a rehabilitated world that is passing away but in the coming of Christ and His visible and regenerated kingdom on earth (Hebrews 9:28)! Beyond the “birth pangs” then is a new age of peace and joy in a world finally free from war. We are also not going to lock ourselves away with our “end time prepper provisions” and hope for the end to come. This too is certainly not biblical. No, we are going to do everything possible to call people out of the world to the cross of Jesus since this glorious Gospel will be preached in all the world as a witness and then the end shall come (Matthew 24:14). We have good news to preach and we had better do so now, more than ever, for indeed the “night cometh when no man will work.” (John 9:4).
 
Even so Lord Jesus come!
 
— by Rev. Malcolm Hedding, ICEJ International Spokesman

(1) Preterism is an eschatological teaching that was compiled in 1614 by a Jesuit Priest called Luis de Alcazar. He did this specifically in order to counter or resist the Reformation in that Luther, and the other reformers, accused the Pope of being the Antichrist. The strategy was simple: If all the Antichrist passages of scripture were fulfilled in AD 70 then it is not possible to accuse the Pope of being an Antichrist!
 
(2) The fact that the Antichrist is destroyed by the coming of Jesus a second time is consistent with Daniel’s prophetic oracle and constitutes proof that the events of the end time, as described by Matthew in his 24th chapter, were not entirely fulfilled in AD 70 and beyond. They have more than one fulfillment and are therefore what we call “progressive prophetic fulfillment”.

Israel in the New Testament

Today old and yet false theological schemes are emerging that challenge the biblical credentials underpinning Israel’s modern day restoration. The recent 70th year celebrations of Israel’s independence coupled with the democratic decision of the American people to move their embassy to Jerusalem has ignited intense debate in the wider Church about these things and consequently these false teachings are being asserted again. They all have one thing in common and that is that Israel’s modern day restoration enjoys no biblical significance and is nothing more than a political coincidence. The teachings of which I write are the following:
  • Replacement Theology
  • Fulfillment Theology and,
  • Dominion Theology
In the first, Replacement Theology,  the Church is now the sole expression of the purpose of God on earth and as such is the “New Israel of God.” The Jewish people, having failed God, have forfeited the promises made to them in the Abrahamic Covenant and especially those that promise them everlasting possession of the land of Canaan for the purpose of world redemption.
 
In the second, Fulfillment Theology, Jesus in His own life and body fulfills all the promises that God made to the Jewish people in the Abrahamic Covenant including those that have to do with bequeathing to the Jewish people the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession.
 
In the last of these, that is Dominion Theology, the Church is destined to take dominion over the world and set up a type of global expression of Christendom. Once this has been achieved, in that the seven mountains of human activity have been Christianized, Jesus will come again. In other words the Church ushers in the Millennium before Jesus comes and therefore there is no need for a restored Jewish state in the land of Canaan to do so. Only a restored Church can accomplish this and thus this false teaching asserts that a new type of empowered Christian is going to emerge who will bring the Kingdom of God to the world in a new and dynamic manner. Consequently, once again, Israel’s modern day restoration is irrelevant and therefore enjoys no biblical credentials. Dominion Theology is nothing more than the emergence of an old teaching called Post-Millennialism.

In the words of the esteemed theologian David Pawson ...

 
For many “there is the settled conviction that the Israel of the Old Testament has been ‘replaced’ or ‘fulfilled’ in the Church of the New…but the Jewish nation as a whole is no longer God’s chosen people and must be regarded, treated and judged like any other. The Jews as such no longer have a place in the plans and purposes of God…I believe that Israel has a future in God’s purposes; that He has not finished with Israel; that neither the people nor the place have been left behind in God’s purposes.”
 

Those holding to these theological positions constantly claim that the New Testament does not support a restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Canaan. In fact for them the New Testament does just the opposite in that it teaches that in the light of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection men everywhere should now repent regardless of ethnicity, race, position, or gender. This of course is true but only partly so! Indeed a careful examination of the pages of the New Testament will reveal a different story. A story that will confirm that no part of the Abrahamic Covenant has been abolished or adjusted and that God still remains faithful to all the promises He ever made to the Jewish people in it. This in turn means that Israel’s modern day restoration enjoys significant and amazing support from the New Testament scriptures. Consider the following:
 

1. The Abrahamic Covenant

 
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.”  Hebrews 11:17-19
 
“For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope that is set before us.” —Hebrews 6:13-18
 
It is the Abrahamic Covenant that promises the Jewish people the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession for the purpose of world redemption (Genesis 13:14-15; Genesis 17:7-8; Psalm 105:7-12). The Covenant was conditional upon Abraham’s obedience and was certainly “cut” with him by God in an unconditional manner. That is, God alone undertook to fulfill all the promises and obligations in it (Genesis 15:12-21). Indeed Abraham, having been put to the test, gave full obedience to the command of God that required that he, Abraham, should sacrifice Isaac upon whose existence all the promises of land, of a coming Messiah and of global salvation (blessing) rested (Genesis 22:1-2).
 
Abraham believed that God would still fulfill these even if Isaac were taken from him leaving him with no heir. Because he demonstrated unswerving faith in the promises of God, God considered Abraham His friend (2 Chronicles 20:7) and swore by Himself and by His word that He would be faithful just as Abraham His friend had been faithful! Theirs was a true friendship based on the fact that God does not lie. Those espousing the errors outlined above believe that God did in fact lie and has broken His friendship with Abraham by dishonoring His promises that He made to him. In fact the truth is just the opposite because God remains faithful to all His promises to the Jewish people because of His friendship with their Fathers, which includes Abraham! Paul picks up on this in Romans 11 when he makes a remarkable statement that goes like this:
 
“Concerning the Gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election (that is, God’s call over their lives) they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (that is cannot be changed or removed in any way).” Romans 11:28-29
 
In Galatians 3 Paul recognizes that while the Abrahamic Covenant has many parts actually as a Covenant it cannot in any way be annulled. It is one Covenant and no part of it can be changed because God is faithful and a true friend to Abraham.
 
“Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds” as of many but as of one, “And to your Seed”, who is Christ.” —Galatians 3:15-16
 
For Paul then the Abrahamic Covenant cannot be adjusted in any way (‘no one annuls or adds to it”) but this is exactly what the preachers of these false teachings do. They adjust (add) things that the very nature of the Covenant precludes one from doing. Here Paul is referring to that part of the Abrahamic Covenant that promises that salvation would come to the world through one individual (seed) and not by the giving of the Law given to the many (seeds). In this vain, Luke admits that the many holy men of God who came to Israel, to fulfill their ministries, did so because of the promises that God made to the Jewish people in Abraham. So, John the Baptist came into the world precisely because God remembered His people and His promises to them in Abraham and this too was true of Christ. Speaking of whom he records Mary’s Song as follows:
 
“He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.” —Luke 1:53-55
 
And then of John the Baptist he records Zacharias’ Prophetic word as follows:
 
“That we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham: to grant us that we being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our lives.” 
—Luke 1:71-75
 
So, it is clear from these passages that the apostolic writers recognized that in the Abrahamic Covenant God made promises to the people of Israel that embodied land, deliverance, the coming of a herald to the nation and the arrival of a Messiah. In short in sending John and Jesus to the people of Israel God honored the promises that He had made to His friend Abraham.
 
In Galatians 3 Paul firmly entrenches the unshakable nature of the Abrahamic Covenant because for him:
  • It promised salvation in Christ and not by means of the Law (Galatians 3:16).
     
  • It is everlasting and cannot be annulled (Galatians 3:15).
     
  • It is, by virtue of being in Christ, the means to receive the promised Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:14).
     
  • It is, by virtue of being in Christ, the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations (Galatians 3:29).
It is to be noted that in Galatians 3 Paul is seeking to combat those who were seeking to destabilize the Church by insisting that aspects of the Law had to be observed in order to be saved (Galatians 2:11-21). These people were called “Judaizes”. Paul is thus demonstrating that 430 years before the Law was given on Mt. Sinai God promised in the Abrahamic Covenant that salvation would come to the world through a “Seed” (Christ) who by His death on the cross would save us from the curse of sin (Galatians 3:13). The Law, writes Paul, serves as a  “tutor to bring us to Christ” (Galatians 3:24). Paul is definitely not here debunking the other parts of the Abrahamic Covenant that bequeath to the Jewish people the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession as some erroneously assert. He was only dealing with the issues surrounding the Law and Grace.

2. Jesus

Jesus, recognizing the call of God over the nation of Israel, said:
 
“Salvation is of the Jews.” —John 4:22
 
This is an amazing statement in that in reality Jesus is the only Savior and yet He recognized that the Jewish people, in their historical journey, undergirded only by the Abrahamic Covenant, are the custodians of redemptive truth. Even Jesus needed their historical journey because by it the Word of God was produced that gave Him context and credentials for His redeeming work. That is, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). Paul reinforced the same truth in Romans 9:1-5.
 
Jesus knew then that the Abrahamic Covenant had made promises to the many (the Jews) and promises to the One who would bring blessing (salvation) to the world, that is, Himself. There is no other way to interpret this statement and to therefore assert that somehow God held true to all His undertakings to Abraham for 2000 years until Jesus came, and then broke them is ludicrous but this is precisely what these three false teachings claim.
 
It follows then that the modern day restoration of Israel is in fact no coincidence but the outflow of God’s word to “the fathers.” Also, the fact that salvation is of the Jews; means that their existence, revelation, land and Messiah are testimony to the irrevocable call that God placed over their national destiny for the blessing of the world. This call has nothing to do with racial superiority but rather with blessing (salvation) for the nations and yet the nations, and even segments of the Church, resist this call and thereby in fact resist the purpose of God. This was true of old and it is true today. Israel exists only for the blessing of the nations; even the Arabic speaking nations! If only they would recognize it.
 
It is also worth noting that Jesus foresaw an end-time return of the Jews to Jerusalem (Luke 21:24) and, in response to a question put to Him by His Disciples, affirmed that a day would come, known only to the Father, when the “kingdom would be restored to Israel” (Acts 1:6). This clearly implies a restoration of the Jews to Canaan with Jerusalem as their Capital!

3. Romans 9, 10 and 11

“For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen." 
—Romans 9:3-5
 
It must be, and should be noted, that according to Paul the “Israelites” remain the recipients of “the covenants” and “the promises” and Paul is confirming this to Christians who come from a Gentile background. If this be true then who are we to assert that this is actually not true since he writes this after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus? The false theological systems, mentioned at the beginning of this paper, actually claim that by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ the promises made to Israel in the covenants and especially in the Abrahamic Covenant have been altered, changed or abolished. Paul uses the present continuous tense in this passage meaning that all the covenants and promises related to Israel remain intact.
 
Actually the very fact that Paul dedicates an extensive part of his Roman Epistle to the question of Israel is highly significant in that this alone proves that the Jewish people take and hold a unique place before God in terms of His plan for the salvation of the world. If they were like any other nation, as is asserted by these false teachings, why would he bother for certainly he does not write about Australians or Canadians in this way. What is it about the Jewish people that demands a unique explanation? The answer is the following:
 
They are, “beloved of God”, even in their unsaved state “for the sake of the Fathers” (Romans 11:28b). That is, God has remembered all the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and will not renege on them. Indeed He will not go back on His “election” of them. Meaning that though unsaved they remain “elected” in the sense that they carry the redemptive purpose of God in their national destiny.
 
They are, “enemies of the Gospel for your sake” (Romans 11:28a). This is a remarkable statement in that it acknowledges that Jewish unbelief has enabled the Gentile world to hear the Gospel. No other nation on the earth is an enemy of the gospel for our sakes and this underlines the fact that even in their unbelief the Jews are a blessing to the world!
 
They are, not cast away from the promises of God because they “stumbled” over Christ and so they have not been disinvested from anything that God said to them. Paul writes:
 
“I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall (be disinherited of God’s promises to them)? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.” —Romans 11:11
 
In fact their “fall” is “riches for the world” (Romans 11:12). Again, if God has no other destiny for them as a nation then why would Paul write in these terms and indeed he goes on to declare that their recovery, spiritually speaking, will mean for the Gentile world “life from the dead” (Romans 11:15). That is, the literal resurrection of the dead for Gentile Christians. Jesus is not coming again until the full restoration process now unfolding in Israel will be completed. Peter agrees fully with Paul on this as, when preaching to the “men of Israel”, he said:
 
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of the restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” —Acts 3:19-21
 
They are, to be dealt with by kindness and appreciation. Paul warns that if Gentile Christians despise unsaved Jews and deal with them arrogantly and wickedly God is watching and will in the end even remove them from the olive tree of salvation! This is serious business and it is here that vast segments of the Church have failed and have sinned before God and continue to. This reality only pertains to the Jewish people and no other nation and this in turn indicates that as a nation they stand in a unique place before God. We should read the following words of Paul very carefully:
 
“And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the tree, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if god did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either." —Romans 11:17-21
 
The historical record of Christian Anti-Semitism is wicked, awful and overwhelming and much of it has been driven by the three false theological systems mentioned above. These false teachings all have one thing in common; they disinvest the Jewish people of their unique national destiny and consequently assert that there is no biblical significance to their modern day restoration. The New Testament refutes these false claims everywhere. And so, finally:
 
They are, the recipients of a destiny given to them in Abraham that is “irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). The word “irrevocable” is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as: “That which is unable to be changed or reversed.” Paul here affirms that when God called forth the Jewish people in Abraham He made promises to them that He would never, in any way, go back on. How strange it is then that so-called Christian theologians have no understanding of what the word “irrevocable” means. Actually they have the same problem with understanding the word “everlasting” found in the pages of Genesis.  This theological ineptitude has robbed the Church of truth, displeased God and brought much misery to the Jewish people. If only we had properly read the New Testament after all, as concerning the Jews, “we share in their spiritual things (Romans 15:27)!

Important Summary

It is important to note then that any careful and honest examination of Romans 9,10 and 11 will reveal that unbelieving Israel enjoys a relationship with the God of the Bible that, while not saving, is real and unique and that no other nation on earth enjoys. According to Paul unbelieving Israel is “beloved for the sake of the fathers”, has not been rejected or “cast away”, enjoys a calling that is “irrevocable” and those who mistreat or despise her could be removed from the olive tree of salvation. This is New Testament theology and consequently two questions have to be asked:
  1. On what biblical grounds does unbelieving Israel enjoy these blessings? The answer is, and can only be, the Abrahamic Covenant…and,
     
  2. What other nation currently on the earth enjoys such blessings and protections? The answer is, none!
by Rev. Malcolm Hedding, ICEJ International Spokesman

An Israel On The Rise

It has been 70 years now since Israel was miraculously reborn as a nation back in her ancient homeland. In that time, the Jewish state has faced many wars, terror attacks, rocket barrages, economic boycotts and other attempts to strangle the young nation. She also had to absorb several million new immigrants, many penniless refugees of conflicts and forced expulsions. Yet despite all these challenges, Israel is a nation on the rise.

Israel remains on an ever upward trajectory because of God’s favour, and the resiliency and determination of her people. Yet, some still expect the Jewish state to go through one last dark period of divine judgment and annihilation during the ‘Great Tribulation’ before they are finally reconciled to God.

However, the Bible assures us that Israel has already been through the worst of God’s dealings with them during their times of uprooting and exile, while their future back in the land is now bright and full of hope (Isaiah 60). No doubt, Israel will face more troubles ahead, but the Lord will deliver her out of them all (Isaiah 31:5; Joel 2:32; Zechariah 14:3). Rather, the troubles and tribulation still to come are all about God’s humbling and judging of the nations to prepare the way for Jesus to come take up the throne of his father David in Jerusalem. This was the teaching of Jesus himself in his Mount of Olives discourse, found in Matthew 24 and Luke 21.

The Eschatology of Jesus
The context of these parallel passages is that Jesus has just predicted the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. His closest followers ask him when this will occur, and what is the sign of his coming and of the end of the age? Now we think they are asking about what we now refer to as the “Second Coming”. But they had no idea yet about the return of the Lord after many long centuries in heaven. They did not even know about his Ascension yet. Rather, the disciples wanted to know when and how he would present to the entire nation the proof of his divine authority and credentials as the promised Messiah. And they expected this to trigger the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom within their lifetime.

So Jesus is confronted with a serious challenge. He must completely reset their prophetic timetable while preparing them for the tough times just ahead. He knows that the Temple will soon be destroyed and that many long centuries of exile await the Jewish people. The Luke version, in particular, sets out two very clear and distinct times of tribulation and judgement – one for Israel in the days when the Second Temple was destroyed and the Jews were forced into exile; and a second one for the nations at the end of the Gentile age. The first would begin in their lifetime, while the latter would only occur after Israel’s judgment and exile is over. After all, judgment begins in God’s house first, among His people, before the unrighteous nations are judged. (1 Peter 4:17)

Judgment on Israel
The first period of judgment foreseen by Jesus involves God’s wrath upon Israel, which began in the lifetimes of his earliest followers and led to the sacking of the Temple and the scattering of Israel. Jesus is speaking straight from the “curse” spelled out by Moses – in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 – should Israel turn their backs on God. He knew that the Father had prescribed exactly how He would punish Israel for her sins, and it is through sieges on their cities that get so bad the Jewish people turn to cannibalism, and it ends in their exile among the nations. In his farewell message to the Israelites, Moses also warned that “many evils and troubles” would surely befall the people due to their rebellious nature (Deuteronomy 31:17, 21), resulting in long and painful exiles from the Promised Land. He added that this was not a matter of “if” but “when”.

This manner of divine judgment then becomes a common thread throughout the Hebrew prophets. For instance, it appears in Jeremiah chapters 30 to 33, in Ezekiel chapters 5 and 37, and in Zechariah 13.

The Lord describes the severity of the judgment which would come upon Israel in the first century by saying, “I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again...” (Ezekiel 5:9) This prompts Jesus to warn, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (Matthew 24:21) The Apostle Paul later proclaims that “wrath has come upon them to the uttermost”. (1 Thessalonians 2:16) Again, these passages describe the worst that God would ever do to the Jewish people, and they all pivot around the violent expulsion and long exile of the Jews from their land beginning in the first century.

Yet it all finally ends in a national restoration of Israel back in the land that ultimately gives way to her spiritual restoration as well. History testifies that all this has taken place over the past 2,000 years of Israel’s violent uprooting and scattering to all nations. And the firm promise of God is that we are now in a time of His great favour and restoration for Zion. This is an irreversible process, and nothing can stop or interrupt it. (Jeremiah 24:6, 31:28, 32:41; Amos 9:15)

Judgment on the Nations
The second period of judgment involves God’s humbling and correction of the nations. Here again, Jesus knew that God prescribes in Scripture exactly how He will finally judge the nations at the end of the age. And he points to the Flood of Noah as the model for this, saying, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:37) Yet this global judgment will not be by water but by fire this time! The New Testament is clear that Sodom and Gomorrah are set forth as examples of the fiery judgment that awaits the world at the end of the age. (see, for example, Luke 17:28-30; 2 Peter 2:5-6; Jude 7).

Conclusion
When we read the prophetic teachings of Jesus in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, there is a tendency to cram every bad thing spoken of in these chapters into the end times. But we can actually check off the worst things predicted there for Israel, since they have already been fulfilled in their long and difficult uprooting and exile from the land. Instead, the focus of God’s wrath still to come will be on the growing rebellion among the rest of humanity, and Jesus instructed us to look to the “Days of Noah” as the paradigm for what lies ahead. For in it lies the key to unlocking the timing of “the coming of the Son of Man”. (Matthew 24:37-39)


You can read an in-depth explanation on the Flood model in David Parsons’ new book Floodgates. Order your book today!

The Miracle of Israel's Rebirth

The modern-day rebirth of the nation of Israel seventy years ago is such an unprecedented act in world history, and is considered an outright ‘miracle’ in the most classic sense of the word. That is, it could only have been achieved by divine intervention.

This is especially true in light of the uniquely dire circumstances under which Israel’s re-emergence among the family of nations took place. The prophet Isaiah alludes to these travails when he asks: “Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labour, she gave birth to her children.” (Isaiah 66:8)

In 1948, the Jewish people were still reeling from the tragedy of the Holocaust. The enormous scope and depravity of the Nazi genocide against the Jews was still being uncovered, and two-thirds of European Jewry had been gassed or gunned down en masse. Most of the surviving remnant were on the brink of starvation, and few wanted to return to their homes. They knew their neighbours had never really accepted them, and likely never would.

Such calamities were nothing new for the Jews. For centuries they had faced pogroms, blood libels, forced conversions, expulsions and other forms of religious persecutions, yet this was the lowest point. The racial anti-Semitism of the Nazis had reduced them to sub-human status as if they were vermin slated for extermination. As a people, the Jews felt they had reached a dead end.

The prophet Ezekiel spoke of such a time when Israel would say as a people: “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!” Yet God declared that all was not lost. At their lowest moment, He would assuredly “cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.” (Ezekiel 37:11-12)

The great miracle of Israel’s rebirth in May 1948 was that it happened just three years after the Holocaust ended. From the ashes of the Shoah, the Jewish people suddenly arose and re-established sovereignty in their ancient homeland. At their time of greatest weakness, they were empowered in a way that had alluded them for centuries, and it was nothing less than the resurrection power of God at work.

Even more astounding is the fact that Israel faced another very serious threat of annihilation as it was reborn. When its founding leader David Ben-Gurion declared independence for the Jewish state on 14 May 1948, it was immediately attacked by five invading Arab armies. These Arab forces were armed, trained, and in some cases even commanded by officers from some of the world’s major powers. In contrast, the international community placed an arms embargo on the fledgling state of Israel, and only one small nation – Czechoslovakia – dared defy it by supplying weapons to the desperate Jewish fighters. In many instances, frail Holocaust survivors arriving from Europe were thrown straight into battle without even shoes on their feet. Arab leaders had vowed to “drive the Jews into the sea”, but somehow Israel prevailed.


THE FOLLOWING year of 1949, the United Nations voted to admit Israel as a full member state during a time when numerous nations were securing their independence and joining the international community. Many nations were also born out of the widespread suffering of the First and Second World Wars, therefore there was great sympathy for these nations, as well as Israel. Although, Israel stands out for the way it overcame the greatest odds and rewrote history.

The Jews are the only people who have been thoroughly uprooted from their homeland to then return to that same land and re-establish their national sovereignty. You could search far and wide and still not find another people who have managed to do this even once, and yet the Jews have done it twice! What makes this all the more remarkable is that the Bible, which they gifted to the world, told us all this was going to happen before it came to be. The Scriptures declared beforehand that there would be two scatterings and two returns of the Jewish people – first from Babylon and then from all the nations of the earth.

It was this very Bible that kept the Jews together as a people during their long centuries of exile. This same Bible planted in them a prophetic hope of return and national restoration, which became the driving force that brought them back – quite literally – from the grave.

The Apostle Paul relies on these prophetic passages when he speaks of a promised future restoration for Israel in the Book of Romans. He teaches that even Israel’s scattering had a redemptive purpose for the Gospel to go out to all nations and thereby reconcile many to God. Yet when it finally comes time for Israel’s ingathering, Paul says we can expect no less than “life from the dead!” (Romans 11:11-15). That is, the resurrection power of God will still be at work in the earth when the Jewish nation is finally restored in their ancient homeland.

We live in a day when we have witnessed these things coming to pass. Seventy years after Israel’s miraculous rebirth causes us to question: Will we align with those who are trying to put the Jewish people back in their graves? Or will we be among those who are found rejoicing in the incredible way God has brought the nation of Israel back to life?

The great parallels of Passover

The great theme of the Bible is the fall and sinful nature of humanity and then God’s provision of atonement and reconciliation for humankind through Christ, the Redeemer. Sin has separated us from God, but God’s gift in the resurrected Lord has brought us back near to Him.

Temple sacrifices
The purpose of the animal sacrifices and ordinances of service and worship to God in the Tabernacle of Moses in the desert, and later on in the Temple in Jerusalem, was to provide a way of escape for the Israelites from the wrath of God towards sin into His favour, protection, life and blessings.

Again and again among the Israelites, humanity’s failures, imperfections and sins were transferred onto innocent animals to save and preserve human life. The guilty man had to bring an innocent animal to the priest, who then slaughtered it and let the man go free. The punishment for sin – death – was thus removed from upon the guilty person and transferred to the innocent animal, which by God’s command had to carry the consequences of humans breaking the holy law of God.

The blood of the innocent animals was constantly covering the altar, for the Lord had said: “I have given it (the blood of the animal sacrifices) to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11)

The great warning of God had been: “If you sin, you will surely die.” However, men did sin, and death did have to take place – but it was the death of an innocent animal whose blood was poured out instead of the guilty man himself. When God saw the blood, it was always the sign for Him that His righteous requirements had been met, justice had been performed and the price for man’s iniquities had been paid. God was now free and just when placing His blessings and protection upon His righteous ones!

The ultimate sacrifice
The purpose of Temple service and the constant reading of the Holy Writings among the Israelites were also to teach and raise the expectancy in the hearts and minds of His holy people for the ultimate sacrifice to come. This ultimate sacrifice would be more than a blood covering for their sins, more than a reminder of their sins – it would take their sins away and their sin-consciousness would be changed into a consciousness of righteousness (Psalm 40:6-8, Hebrews 10:1-22)!

This ultimate and final sacrifice would be the fulfilment of all the sacrifices in the Law of Moses, would be a once and for all sacrifice performed just once, and the place for it would be in the holy mountain of the Lord – in Jerusalem (Luke 13:33)!

 “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.”
(Exodus 12:13)

 "Indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”
(1 Corinthians 5:7)


The Lamb of God
The true Lamb of God would arrive upon the scene and His name would be “Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”. He would be called “Jesus” (Yeshua or “salvation” in Hebrew), for He would save His people from their sins (Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 1:21)! And Jesus, our Lord and Messiah, truly did come and gave himself as the ultimate sacrifice for his own people during the celebration of Passover. And not only for his own Jewish people but for the whole world…

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

Passover
The story in the whole Bible where the God of Israel has portrayed the power of the blood of Jesus in a narrative form – and concealed it from the notice of hardened hearts – is the historical exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.

Every family in all Israel had to take a lamb – a lamb without blemish for each household – and then kill it at twilight (Exodus 12). The shed blood of the innocent lamb was then to be taken and put on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses. For the Lord had proclaimed: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” (Exodus 12:13)

Every family living in the land of Egypt – both among the Egyptians and the Israelites alike – was in danger of having death enter into their household to rob their first-born sons. The judgment of God was about to fall on the land of Egypt because of their idol worship. We can read in the book of Ezekiel that the Israelites in Egypt also had fallen into the same snare and temptation of idol worship and thus death was about to fall upon their families alike (Ezekiel 20:7-10). But God provided a way of escape for His own people!

The penalty of death and the judgment of God could be transferred from their families onto an innocent lamb slaughtered on their behalf. Someone had to die as the consequence of their sins. But this someone was not one of their own family – not the firstborn, not the father nor the mother – but a male lamb. The sins and resulting death of each Israelite family were transferred and laid upon the lamb, and the life and innocence of the lamb was transferred upon the family. The lamb died – and the family, including the firstborn, lived!

When the angel of death was then passing through the land of Egypt destroying life among the Egyptian families, whenever he saw the lamb’s blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts of the Israelite families, he passed over. Death had already come! The destroyer then did not come into these houses to strike them a second time and the families inside were in complete safety!

Only the Israelites had been told to act in this manner. The instructions for saving their lives had come through the mouth of Moses and they had heeded the word of the Lord – and they lived! The punishment for their idol worship and sins had been laid on the lamb and the families were forgiven because of the blood.

This proved to be life-saving knowledge from God spoken through the mouth of Moses, who faithfully had delivered the word of God to them (Exodus 12:21). Then the elders and each family in turn had just as faithfully passed on the word from one family to another – and so the whole nation of Israel had been warned, instructed and as a result had been saved!

Remember: “Indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” Our death and hell was transferred onto him on the cross, and his life and righteousness was transferred upon us through his resurrection. When we believe, his life is in us and the life we live is his and we will never die! (Galatians 2:20, John 11:26)

The Good News
The message of the Passover lamb from Moses’ mouth spread among the hundreds of thousands of Israelites in two weeks’ time. The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who died on the cross as our Passover lamb has also been taken to millions of people and to the four corners of the earth in two thousand years!

The truth about His death, burial and resurrection from the grave has been preached and believed on in the nations! Whoever believes and heeds this life-saving knowledge which was in the mouth of Jesus our Lord, surely shall be saved from eternal death, hell and destruction! Jesus says: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:54)

Life for your family
There is a great Saviour and Redeemer, a Mediator between God and man – the man Christ Jesus! There is life, protection and blessing for your whole family – it is in his blood!

Rev. Juha Ketola is an ordained minister who serves as International Director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; www.icej.org

 

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