Connecting the Dots
Nehemiah had his work cut out for him. God had promised to return the Jewish people to their land after their captivity in Babylon. And true to His Word, God brought Nehemiah back to Israel to help the Jewish people rebuild the walls of Jerusalem while surrounded by enemies trying to destroy them.
The current situation in Egypt and the Middle East shows us that not much has changed. Israel is in its land; and its enemies—including the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran—are determined to destroy the Jewish state and disperse its people.
And though God’s promises are on Israel’s side, many self-anointed “Bible scholars” stubbornly maintain the Lord is finished with Israel. They attack the Bible’s integrity, not believing that promises made will be promises kept; and in so doing they misinform, confuse, and discourage other believers. Furthermore, they ridicule anyone who accepts a literal, orderly, biblical prophetic progression in which Israel plays a major role.
Christian Zionists who believe in a future Temple (Ezek. 40—48) and in God’s promises to make Jerusalem the Jewish capital of a future Millennial Kingdom are accused of blasphemy. In fact, the accusers are so hostile to Israel they question the very idea of revering Jerusalem as the Holy City and claim Christian Zionists endorse the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians.
Today there is deep-seated theological hostility toward dispensational teaching; and it reflects an obsessive prejudice against Israel and denies Jewish people their rightful place in God’s program. As one nondispensationalist put it, “The church is Israel in a newly reformed and expanded phase of existence….The church is really the continuation of Israel.”
So, following that reasoning, when Psalm 122:6 instructs us, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” it actually means to pray for the “true Israel” that supposedly consists of every person who, through faith, has been adopted into the family of God? Nonsense. Such an interpretation completely distorts the meaning and intent of Scripture (a serious offense in itself) and turns biblical history into a muddle of pointless, spiritualized generalizations.
This distortion is not what our Lord intended when He gave us His Word, which makes clear the direction of the world, the church, and Israel by clarifying the great issues of the last days. Those of us who pray earnestly for discernment receive answers in the orderly revelation prewritten in the Word of God.
The Rapture (Jn. 14:1–3; 1 Th. 4:15–18; Ti. 2:12–13)
The Tribulation (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:24–27; Mt. 24:21–25)
The Second Coming (Mt. 24:27–31; Rev. 1:7; 19:11–16)
The Millennial Kingdom (Dan. 11; Zech. 8:20–23; 14:16–21; Rev. 20:1–6)
The Future Eternal State (Jn. 10:27–29; Rev. 21—22)
An integral part of the biblical prophetic scenario includes Israel and the Jewish people—and that fact takes nothing away from the church, which is unique and distinct in every aspect of its past, present, and future. Trying to absorb Israel’s inheritance into the church not only mutilates what God makes plain but manifests a pattern of theological anti-Semitism or, at the least, a regrettable form of elitism that excludes Israel from its own Scriptures.
The entire relationship between our Lord and His Chosen People is a story of everything desirable, enriching, and instructive and should properly command our close attention. At the heart of the narrative is the revelation of God’s character, providing indispensable insights into the essence of a Sovereign who is trustworthy, faithful, just, honest, and caring and whose ability to love far exceeds our capacity to comprehend.
Israel confirms the depth of our God’s commitment to a program that the whole entity, rather than a smattering of promises made and suspended. God never leaves things unfinished, nor does He depend on man’s ability to make things work.
The consistent study of the entire body of prophecy connects all the dots, so to speak. It reveals how God called out a people and promised to preserve them, give them a land, use them to bless the world through the Messiah, see them through the darkest of dark days, bring them back to the Promised Land, put His Messiah-King on the throne of David to reign with equity and justice, and usher in a time when peace covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.
Today Israel may be in much the same predicament as it was in the days of Nehemiah. But a new day will come when God will give Israel everything He has promised, just as He will give the church everything He has guaranteed us as well.