Seven Minutes with The International Director Feb/Mar 1979
On May 14, 1948 at 4:30 p.m. a dead nation was resurrected — Israel was reborn. Many predicted and millions more hoped that she would be stillborn. Four wars and thirty-one years later, she is still breathing..
There were moments when she needed oxygen, occasions when her life signs were weak, perilous times when she could have died in childhood.
And even at this writing, she is engaged in delicate agonizing negotiations with Egypt with potential life and death implications
BUT ISRAEL STILL LIVES!
Is her rebirth and dogged determination to live simply a humanistic saga — is it to be interpreted only in the light of idealism, cultural identification, raw courage and the natural outworking of history?
Or, does her rebirth and preservation have a divine dimension?
The implications are considerable. If Israel is solely the result of human heroics, then no prophetic implications should be seen in her national resurrection — it is simply a political issue.
If, on the other hand, modern Israel exists by divine design, in preparation for end-of-the-age events and for the outworking of God’s redemptive plan for human history, then Israel’s right to exist within secure borders should be endorsed and aided by every blood-bought child of the King — it becomes a theological issue. .
One result of Hitler’s decimation of European Jewry was that most of the nations of the world were sympathetic to the idea of a Jewish state. In 1947, even the godless Soviet Union voted in the United Nations to partition Palestine — to her everlasting regret.
Sympathy turned to admiration as the young nation fought to survive in 1948 and 1956, and by the end of the June 1967 war and the defeat of Syria, Egypt and Jordan in six days, the world stood in awe.
But, that was not the end. Israel would fight again for survival in 1973 and turn what appeared to be defeat into an astounding victory. Only a United Nations resolution and pressure from the United States kept Israel’s armies from marching into Cairo, Egypt and Damascus, Syria.
Then followed the oil shortages of 1974 (whether real or manipulated) and the spotlight on Arab-controlled Middle East oil. Bumper stickers began to be seen in certain parts of the United States saying, “Oil yes, Israel no.”
And a stream of anti-Israel literature began to appear — some of it under the guise of Christianity.
Then, in 1977, President Sadat of Egypt visited Israel to “initiate” a peace which Israel had been trying to achieve for thirty years. President Sadat should be rightly commended for his courage. But, in a more than passing way, it should be noted that the Egyptian economy had been destroyed by four wars which it had perpetrated and lost, and poverty was rampant. Sadat could not afford another war and desperately needed peace. He was caught between the proverbial rock and hard place, Since the Camp David accords, Sadat continues to make new demands and up the ante of concessions expected to be made by the Israeli government. It is Israel who occupies the Sinai and the West Bank, and it is she who has made concessions to achieve peace.
ISRAEL has relinquished, to Egypt, the whole vast area of the Sinai Peninsula, an area which had repeatedly been used by Egypt as a base for attacks against her.
ISRAEL has abandoned three important strategic airfields in Eastern Sinai and a naval base at Sharm eI-Sheikh.
ISRAEL has dismantled Jewish villages which had been established as a security measure along the eastern edge of Sinai.
ISRAEL has relinquished oil fields developed by her and which account for twenty percent of her oil consumption.
Still, an American administration tries to tell the American people that Israel is not willing to compromise.
Arab nations are spending millions on a carefully orchestrated public relations campaign and the press has portrayed and the public has embraced Sadat as a peacemaking hero and Begin as intransigent.
And with the new images has come considerable shift from a pro-Israel to a pro-Sadat (Egyptian) position.
The world is fickle — it can say “Hosanna to the Son of David” one moment, and “Crucify Him” the next.
But, the blood-bought child of God and citizen of heaven is not of this world. Our attitude toward the issues of life should be based upon the Word of God, justice and fair play. It is to the Bible, then, that the child of God must go if he would know if the rebirth of Israel is the result of human heroics or divine design.
Israel was God’s covenant people in the Old Testament. She was in the place of special privilege and blessing. Her greatest Son was Jesus, the Messiah. In the fullness of time, He came unto His own and, officially, the nation received Him not.
Israel was nationally set aside, and at Pentecost the Church, composed of believing Jews and Gentiles, was established. Today it is the true Church which stands in the place of special relationship with God. When the Church is raptured (caught up to be with the Lord, 1 Thess. 4:13-18), God will again begin dealing with Israel as a national entity.
Since this is the Church Age, and since God is not dealing with Israel at this time, some teachers suggest that the rebirth of Israel cannot have prophetic implications. And, therefore, the emergence of Israel among the nations of the world cannot and should not suggest that the return of the Lord is drawing near. The chart will help to illustrate basic dispensational teaching.
The answer to whether what is presently happening in Israel is prophetic revolves around one’s understanding of ISRAEL’S ESTRANGEMENT FROM GOD DURING THE CHURCH AGE.
Dispensationalists have rightly seen the period between Pentecost and the Rapture as the Church Age, they have rightly seen it as a time during which Israel has lost its covenantal relationship with God, but some have wrongly inferred that there is no sense in which God is dealing with Israel during this age. In so doing, they have unwittingly fostered theological anti-Semitism.
The dispersion of the Jewish people was a repeated prophetic theme (Lev. 26:27-33, Deut. 28:64-66). In 70 A.D. and again in 135 A.D., under Roman initiative and force, the Jews were uprooted from Israel and scattered to the farthest corners of the earth.
For almost nineteen hundred years they wandered as nomads and foot-weary pilgrims throughout the earth.
Murdered, imprisoned, plundered, hated, hounded and scorned, they somehow, in some inexplicable way endured! Social scientists, historians and many “theologians” cannot explain why the Jew was neither assimilated nor annihilated.
The only answer is that God supernaturally preserved this people who are central to His redemptive plan for human history (Jer. 31:31-40, Ley. 26:24).
If God, during the Church Age, SCATTERED Israel in unbelief – and He did ~ and PRESERVED her in unbelief — and He did — why should it be thought inconsistent or unbiblical that He should RESTORE Israel to the land in unbelief. This is precisely what the prophets foretold.
Israel’s pre-written history can be summed up in four words: DISPERSION, PRESERVATION, RESTORATION and RECONCILIATION.
And if he will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me. Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins (Lev. 26:27-28).
And I will scatter you among the nations, and will draw out a sword after you; and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste (Lev. 26:33).
And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve others gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And among these nations shall thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest; but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind. And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shall fear day and night, and shall have no assurance of thy life (Deut. 28:64-66).
And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God (Ley. 26:44).
And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, to which the Lord thy God hath driven thee (Deut.30:I).
Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham, will I remember; and I will remember the land (Lev. 26:42).
That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations where the Lord thy God hath scattered thee (Deut 30:3).
But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God; I am the Lord (Lev. 26:45).
To Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, God said, “I will be with thee”, divine presence during dispersion — “I will keep thee”, divine preservation during dispersion — I will bring thee again”, divine restoration from dispersion — “I will not leave thee until I have done”, divine consummation in spite of dispersion (Gen. 28:12-15).
The return of Israel is consistently seen to be in unbelief (Ezek. 37, Isa. 60). And for her to enter into a covenant with Anti-Christ at the beginning of the Tribulation, Israel must be constituted a national entity (Dan. 9:27).
Biblically and historically Israel is only blessed when she is in the land — never when outside of it (Deuf. 30:1-8).
As early as 1897 and the First Zionist Congress, there began a noise and shaking of the dry bones.
After the first meeting, Theodore Herzl, the father of modern Israel, went to his room and wrote in his diary, “Today I have founded the modern state of Israel. It will become a reality in fifty years.
In 1947, fifty years later, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine.
The events leading up to the United Nations vote is, in and of itself, a thoroughly fascinating study. Suffice it to say that the First World War prepared the land for the people — the Second World War prepared the people for the land.
In May of 1948, Israel stood up among the nations of the world.
But this was nothing new. Under Moses, Israel returned from a four-hundred-year Egyptian captivity — and in 536 B.C. she returned from Babylon after seventy years of captivity. This later return was in three stages — under Zerubbabel in. 536 B.C., under Ezra in 450 B.C., and finally under Nehemiah’s leadership in 445 B.C. ~ a period of ninety-one years.
There were less than fifty thousand people involved In the first stage, and still it was called a return.
Since 1948 some two million four hundred thousand Jews have returned to Israel. How can it realistically be seen as something other than a divinely-designed return to the land?
Ask an Israeli why he has returned to the land of his forefathers, and, more often than not, pointing to his heart he will say, “Something inside said it’s time to go home.”
Dr. John Walvoord, President of Dallas Theological Seminary, has suggested in his tapes on the Gospel of Matthew, that there may well be three phases to Israel’s return, as there were three phases in the return from Babylon. The first phase began following the birth of modern Israel, the second stage will begin after Israel signs a pact with the Anti-Christ at the beginning of the Tribulation Period, and the third and final phase of the return will occur when Jesus Christ returns physically to Jerusalem to establish a worldwide Millennial Kingdom. With this view the writer concurs.
The rebirth of Israel, then, is not simply a saga of human heroics, but the result of divine design. It is, therefore, filled full with prophetic implications for the child of God. Israel is not always right and the Arabs always wrong. Nor is being pro-Israel being anti-Arab. But, Israel does have a biblical, historical and legal right to live in peace and with safe and secure borders.
Above all else, both Arab and Jew have a supreme need to be introduced to the glorious Physician, the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone can set the captive free.
Israel’s physical rebirth, wedded to the revival of a western confederation of nations (the European Common Market), a super power to the north of Israel (Russia), increasing
religious apostasy (ecumenical movement), the breakdown of marriage and the home (one in four marriages ends in divorce), an atmosphere into which a world leader could suddenly emerge (Anti-Christ) — all have prophetic implications and all suggest the lateness of the hour in which we are living.
Last week an American President suggested (we think erroneously) that peace has not become a reality in the Middle East because of Israel’s intransigence.
America walked out of Vietnam (whether we should have been there is a separate matter), broke our word to Formosa and now appears to be deserting Israel. One can only guess at political motives.
Recently, the cartel of oil-producing nations significantly increased the price of oil — and, you can mark it down, when things get bad, Israel will be blamed once again, Zechariah the prophet said, “Behold I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling, and again, “I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle.”
What is happening in the Middle East has clear and grave prophetic implications. Our planet is racing madly and uncontrollably toward the consummation of the age, And, because God sovereignty said to Abraham, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 22:18), Israel shall bear the brunt of Satanic attack during the lateness of the hour in which we live and during the Tribulation Period to follow. We can reasonably expect continued conflict and crisis in the Middle East.
The bush will burn — but it will not be consumed.
Finite man cannot destroy what an infinite God has decreed indestructible for “he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps. 121:4).