Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Israel: Is that Ok to Say?

Israel is celebrating 60 years back in their homeland, yet there is controversy among Christians surrounding Israel's land promises in Scripture.

( Editorial review) Author Barry E. Horner writes to persuade readers concerning the divine validity of the Jew today (based on Romans 11:28), as well as the nation of Israel and the land of Palestine, in the midst of this much debated issue within Christendom at various levels. He examines the Bible’s consistent pro-Judaic direction, namely a Judeo-centric eschatology that is a unifying feature throughout Scripture.

Lest one thinks that the need for Israel to be back in their homeland is a modern day dispensational misunderstanding--check out the following quotes from the 1800's:

Horner brings out the interesting fact that C.H. Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle, and Horatius Bonar, all of the 1800’s, had the hope and expectation of a Jewish state in Israel.Horatius Bonar wrote in 1870:

I am one of those who believe in Israel’s restoration and conversion; who receive it as a future certainty, that all Israel shall be gathered, and that all Israel shall be saved. I believe that the sons of Abraham are to re-inherit Palestine, and that the forfeited fertility will yet return to that land; that the wilderness and the solitary places shall be glad for them, and the desert will rejoice and blossom as the rose. I believe that, meanwhile, Israel shall not only be wanderers, but that everywhere only a remnant, a small remnant, shall be saved; and that it is for the gathering in of this remnant that our missionaries go forth.

Speaking on Ezekiel 37:1-10 in 1864, Spurgeon declared,

first, that there shall be a political restoration of the Jews to their own land and to their own nationality; and then, secondly, there is in the text, and in the context, a most plain declaration, that there shall be a spiritual restoration, a conversion in fact, of the tribes of Israel. . . . Israel is now blotted out from the map of nations; her sons are scattered far and wide; her daughters mourn beside all the rivers of the earth. Her sacred song is hushed; no king reigns in Jerusalem; she bringeth forth no governors among her tribes. But she is to be restored; she is to be restored “as from the dead."

In 1887 he declared,

We cannot help looking for the restoration of the scattered Israelites to the land which God has given to them by a covenant of salt: we also look for the time when they shall believe in the Messiah whom they have rejected, and shall rejoice in Jesus of Nazareth, whom to-day they despise. There is great encouragement in prophecy to those who work among the seed of Israel; and it is greatly needed, for of all mission fields it has been commonly represented to be one of the most barren, and upon the work the utmost ridicule has been poured. God has, therefore, supplied our faith with encouragements larger than we have in almost any other direction of service. Let those who believe work on! Those who believe not may give it up. They shall not have the honor of having helped to gather together the ancient nation to which our Lord himself belonged; for be it never forgotten that Jesus was a Jew.

Check out:

The Promised Land: A Biblical-Historical View by: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Ph.D. , President Emeritus Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Old Testament, 1993.A.B. (Wheaton College); B.D. (Wheaton Graduate School of Theology); M.A., Ph.D. (Brandeis University).

When I read through the Bible a few years back, I started keeping track of all of the land references and was surprised at the emphasis on the promise of land. Here are a few :

Genesis 12:7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.
Genesis 13:15 for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. Genesis 15:7 And He said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.”
Genesis 17:8 “I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
Genesis 24:7; 26:3; 28:4,13; 35:12; 48:4,21; 50:24

Exodus 3:8,17; 6:4,8; 12:25; 13:5,11; 20:12; 23:31
Exodus 33:1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Depart, go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up from the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’

Leviticus 14:34; 20:22-24; 23:10; 25:2,38; 26:42
Numbers 11:12; 13:2; 14:8,16,23-24,30-31; 15:2,18; 20:12; 27:12; 32:2-14; 33:51-54; 35:10; 36:2

Deuteronomy 1:8,21,25,35-36; 2:12; 3:18-20,28; 4:1,5,14,21-22,26,38,40; 5:16,31,33; 6:1,10,18,23; 7:1,13; 8:1,7,10; 9:5-6,23,28; 10:11; 11:8-12,17,21,29; 12:1,10,29; 15:4,7; 16:20; 17:14; 18:9; 19:1,8,10,14; 27:2-3; 28:8,11,52,63; 30:5,16,18,20; 31:7,13,21,23; 32:47,49,52; 34:4
27:2 …“the land which the Lord your God gives you”
28:8 … “the land which the Lord your God gives you”

Scripture puts a big emphasis on Israel being given the land and it seems one should be very careful about declaring that their eviction notice is final—especially when God is the land owner.

I am not an expert in this area and plan to read more on this topic!