Israel: The Apple of God’s Eye
We have all called a loved one “the apple of our eye”. This term of endearment is used to express how precious this loved one is in our sight. The term, “apple of the eye”, is found in various parts of the Old Testament and is used to refer to the preciousness of Israel in God’s sight.
Moses used the term, “the apple of His eye” (Deut. 32:10), which is literally interpreted “the pupil of his eye”, to express God’s care for Israel during their wilderness wanderings. Moses is saying that God guarded Israel during this time as He would guard the pupil of His own eye. The term, “apple of the eye”, is used even more tenderly in Psalm 17:8. In this verse, David is asking God to keep him as “the daughter of His eye”, a term expressing a tender picture of God’s protection. In Zechariah 2:8 the term, “apple of His eye”, is used to speak of the “aperture” (literally, the gate) of the eye, known as the “pupil of the eye”. Again, this expresses God’s concern for Israel protection.
When we look into someone’s eye, the pupil acts as a mirror reflecting our image back to us in miniature. Referring to the Jew, the reflected image is the “little man” reflected from the pupil of God’s eye. The Jew is so precious to God that he protects him as He would His own eye. When the Jew is afflicted, God feels it, as if it happened to Him.
I. The Preciousness of Israel to God
The eye is a very precious organ, and so is the Jew to God. In many passages, God expresses His deep, eternal love for Israel.
A. His Love is Unconditional
“The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord LOVED YOU, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers.. “(Deut. 7:7-8).
God’s choice was unconditional, not depending on the faithfulness of Israel. We have all asked ourselves, why did God choose Israel? The ultimate reason only He knows. AH \we can say is that God’s choice was a pure act of grace, one of the mysteries of His sovereign love.
B. His Love is Longsuffering
“In all their affliction He was afflicted … in HIS LOVE and in His pity…He bore them, and carried them all the days of old (Isa. 63:9).
God’s love for Israel is so great that He shares their afflictions. Those who hurt the Jew hurt God and grieve Him deeply.
C. His Love is Everlasting
“. . . Yes, I have LOVED THEE with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3).
The extent of God’s love for Israel is everlasting. God has made no such pronouncement and commitment to any other nation. Israel is so precious to God that He says of this people, “.. . thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: The Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people who are upon the face of the earth” (Deut. 7:6).
If God thinks so highly of the nation of Israel, can we do less? We must also have this same attitude toward the Jewish people.
II. The Perpetual Light of Israel From God
When the iris of the eye contracts or expands, the pupil does the same, allowing varying degrees of light into the eye. It is Israel, “the apple of God’s eye”, who has shone forth the light of His truth in varying degrees.
A. The Light of God’s Word
“God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1).
You and I are able to hold In our hands God’s revelation, because the Jewish people were faithful in preserving His Word through the centuries. It is through the Jew that God has revealed His will and way to mankind.
B. The Light of the Messiah
“God.. . Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds” (Heb. 1:1-2).
“In Him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).
Jesus, the Messiah, was born of a Jewish mother, reared in a Jewish home, and brought to both Jew and Gentile the light of salvation. Without the Jewish people, we would not have “the Word . . . made flesh” (John 1:14), Jesus the Messiah. Nor would you and I have the full revelation of God’s plan for our lives.
C. The Light of Salvation
“. . . for salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).
Jesus is saying that salvation is from (literally, out of) the Jews. You and I have been rescued from the pollution, penalty and perdition of sin through the redemptive work of the Jewish Messiah. Our salvation stems directly from the Jewish people.
The first evangelists who sounded out the clarion call, that men could have their sins forgiven and experience new life in Jesus Christ, were all Jewish. These men risked their lives, and finally forfeited them, so that you and I could enjoy the salvation of the Lord.
We should feel ever indebted to these Jewish people for the great spiritual heritage they left us.
III. The Persecution of Israel Before God
A. The Plight of Israel
“. . . Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a sojourner in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them . . “(Gen. 15:13).
God made this astounding declaration to Abraham, and for more than 3,500 years, from Egypt to Europe, nations have tried to destroy the Jewish people.
Although this prophecy was fulfilled when Israel was taken captive in Egypt, since that time Israel has been a sojourner in various nations for a good portion of her 3,500 year history.
Nation after nation has tried to exterminate the Jewish people from the face of the earth. Blinded by anti-semitism, they have looked on the Jewish people as the blight of the world.
A simple glance at these persecutions is startling. Such nations as Egypt, Assyria, Syria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome and Germany have all tried to destroy the Jewish people.
In 70 A.D., Rome destroyed Jerusalem, killing 1,000,000 Jews and taking 97,000 into slavery. In 1189, when Richard the Lionhearted became King of England, he burned most of the Jewish homes in London and killed many Jews. In 1306, King Philip banished 100,000 Jews from France at a moment’s notice. In 1348, Jews were blamed for the plague which broke out in
Europe, and thousands were burned or tortured to death. In 1492, during the Spanish Inquisition, thousands of Jews were forced to leave Spain without their possessions. Many were taken slaves, or killed as they wandered to various countries. In 1903, Russia restricted and massacred thousands of Jews, leaving them in an impoverished state. In 1933-45, the Jewish population of Europe suffered its greatest persecution when Hitler destroyed 6,000,000 Jews.
History has clearly shown that nation after nation has tried to put out “the apple of God’s eye”.
B. The Plight of Israel’s Enemies
“And I will . . . curse him that curseth thee . . .” (Gen. 12:3). God has clearly stated that those who touch Israel with affliction will be CURSED. Both biblical and secular history have proven
this to be true. Every nation who has “touched the apple of God’s eye” has been, or will be touched with physical destruction from God. Many of these nations have never risen to the great power which they once possessed.
When we touch the “apple of God’s eye”, we touch Him, who in turn touches us. As Christians, we should be conscious of this fact, desiring to treat our Jewish friends with “tender loving care”.
IV. The Preservation of Israel By God
A. Israel Will be Preserved through War
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment shall condemn . . .” (Isa. 54:17).
No matter what weapon is formed against Israel, it will never succeed, whether it be the false accusations of the United Nations, or atomic warfare. Israel need not fear ultimate destruction, since the secret of her indestructibility is the overshadowing hand of God. |
B. Israel will be Preserved as Long as the World Exists
“If those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever” (Jer. 31:36).
God has promised that as long as the universe exists, the Jewish people will survive. Her survival is as sure as the promises of God. The Jew will never be destroyed from the face of the earth.
C. Israel is Preserved by Messiah’s Watch Care
“In all their affliction … the angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them . . .” (Isa. 63:9).
The “angel of His presence” is a personification of God’s protective presence over Israel. It is equivalent to the protective presence of “the angel of God” (Ex. 14:19), when God protected
Israel from the Egyptian army at the Red Sea.
The “angel of His presence” is none other than the Messiah (Jesus Christ), whose watch care guarantees Israel’s survival and ultimate deliverance from every aggressor who seeks her destruction.
We have entered into our Bicentennial year with great expectation for future favor from the hand of God. We have experienced unprecedented peace and prosperity in this country, because we have allowed the Jew to co-exist with us in peace.
If we were to persecute the Jew, as so many other nations have done, we might well find God removing the peace and prosperity we cherish today.
While we reflect on the favor God has bestowed on us as a country, may we look with favor on the 6,000,000 Jews who share this nation with us, and have brought unprecedented blessing to this land. May we also have a heartbeat for the nation of Israel, as she continues to struggle against the suppressing aggressors who desire to snuff out her freedom.
If our attitude is less than this to the Jew, we will see reflected back from God’s eye the ugly image of our own prejudice, and God’s divine displeasure. Let us all purpose to treat Israel, “the apple of God’s eye”, with respect and love. Remember the eternal principle, “I will bless them that bless thee (the Jew), and curse him that curseth thee (the Jew); and in thee (the Jew) shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:3).