The Jews, their land and their future
Jim Voisey, Cardiff, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
The Bible has a lot to say about God’s dealings with the Jews and His purposes for them.
A special people
The Jews are a unique people because of their relationship to God. They are ‘the apple of His eye’, that is, the special object of His love and care. God holds men and nations to account for their dealings with His people, through whom all other nations are to be blessed. He will bless those who bless them, and curse those that curse them.1
Balaam was compelled to acknowledge that the Jews were different from all other nations. Throughout history they have always retained their own laws and way of life. Rahab recognized their special relationship with God, when she said, ‘We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you’. The remarkably perceptive words of Zeresh, the wife of Haman, the Jews’ sworn enemy, who was already plotting their annihilation were a warning to him, and everyone else, ‘If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews . . . thou shalt not prevail against him, but shall surely fall before him‘.2
Modern science has established that the Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese are brothers, all sharing the same genetic link, because they are all descendants of Abraham. This is confirmed in a paper published by the American Academy of Sciences, in May 2000. However, only the descendants of Abraham through the line of Isaac and Jacob are Jews, and heirs to the covenant relationship with God.
This is everlasting, and unaffected by time and circumstances. Because of it, the Jews have been greatly blessed, and God revealed Himself to them when all the rest of mankind was stumbling in the darkness of heathenism, idolatry and mythology. Through the Jews alone has come to all the world the divinely inspired word of God, and the one and only Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. To the so-called ‘cultivated and civilized ancient world’ of antiquity, He was ‘the unknown God’.3
The Jews have been persecuted throughout history, and sometimes even denied the rights given to their fellow citizens, but they have stubbornly clung on to their own religion, faith and way of life, never being assimilated completely into the majority population. They are distinct because they are special.
The unique status of the land and Jerusalem
The Lord promised ‘all the Land of Canaan’ to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob. It was to extend from the border with Egypt, the iver or Brook of Egypt, now the Wady-el-Arish, to the River Euphrates. If we should be inclined to be sceptical of this today, we should remember that David had garrisons in Damascus, and Solomon’s kingdom reached ‘from the river Euphrates to the borders of Philistia and Egypt’. The land of Philistia, much of it now known as ‘the Gaza Strip’ is included within the borders of the Promised Land.4
The city of Jerusalem is also very special to the Jews. During their years in the wilderness, as they made their way to the Promised Land, the Lord constantly spoke to them of ‘the place in the land’ where He would put His name, and where His people would go to worship Him. This was subsequently identified as Jerusalem, ‘the city of the great King’ and ‘the holy city’. It was, for Jews, the recognized ‘place where men ought to worship’.5
At the present time Jews and Palestinians are equally determined to have this land, (the Palestinians claiming ancient rights of occupation) and neither is prepared to give way. Attempts at compromises, involving the partitioning of the land, have all failed. It would not appear to be in the mind of God that this should ever happen. For their part, the Palestinians have invariably rejected all these overtures, holding out for their ‘right’ to have Jerusalem as their capital city, and demanding that all refugees be allowed to return to their original pre-1948 homes. These are impossible dreams. The land has been given to the Jews by irreversible divine mandate, they have re-established it as their homeland, and it will not be taken from them again.
When, by an act of divine judgement, the Jews were expelled from their land to go into captivity in Babylon, their enemies rejoiced over their downfall, joined in abuse against them and even took part in the destruction of Jerusalem. They should not have done so, and God’s judgement was proclaimed against them by the prophet Obadiah, Obad. 10-15.
Men have never understood the position of the Jews in relation to God’s purposes. Even as they were preparing to go into captivity, the Lord assured them that they would return to their land; they would ‘rise again’, ‘be brought into the light’ and all their enemies would be ashamed. He also assured them that their long-promised Messiah would be born in the land, and specifically in Bethlehem. How impossible did such a promise look at the time.6
The future of the Jews
Even in their exile, Jews prayed for, and longed for, their own land again. Solomon anticipated they would do so and instructs them how they should pray. Jeremiah prophesied how long their captivity would be, and Daniel always prayed towards Jerusalem, knowing that in God’s time His people would be going back, so that all God’s promises would be fulfilled.7
The Jews did return and the people occupying their land did all they could to frustrate, undermine and hinder them, but God watched over them, and they triumphed over their adversaries. But they still lived in fear, and so the returns under Zerubbabel and Ezra were a faint picture of the time yet to come, when Jerusalem, fully restored, will be ‘a city of truth’, and its bustling streets filled with people, old and young, all living without fear; that has yet to come.8 When our Lord returns to the earth, He will come first to Bethany and the Mount of Olives. Before that, there are hard times for Israel. Jerusalem will be besieged again, but the Lord will intervene, and destroy the besieging nations, perhaps as a consequence of something like a nuclear explosion.9 The Lord is jealous over Jerusalem; He has chosen it, and He will defend it. There are wonderful times ahead for the Jews.10
- See Gen. 12. 2, 3; 22. 18; Deut. 32. 10; Zech. 2. 8.
- See Num. 23. 9; Josh. 2. 9-11; Esther 3. 8; 6. 13; 8. 1.
- Gen. 17. 7; John 4. 42; Acts 17. 23; Rom. 9. 4, 5.
- Gen. 15. 18; 17. 8; Exod. 23. 31; Deut. 17. 8; 11. 24; Josh. 1. 4-6; 2 Sam. 8. 6; 1 Kgs. 4. 21; 2 Chr. 9. 26.
- Deut. 12. 5, 11; 17. 8; 18. 6; 1 Kgs. 8. 29; 14. 21; 2 Chr. 7. 12, 16; Ps. 48. 2; Matt. 4. 5; 5. 35; John 4. 20.
- Micah 5. 1, 2; 7. 7-17.
- 1 Kgs. 8. 33, 34, 46-53; Jer. 25. 1-11; 32. 15, 36-44; Dan. 6. 10; 9. 1, 2, 16-19.
- Zech. 8. 1-8.
- See Zech. 14. 12.
- Isa. 31. 5; Zech. 12. 9; 14. 2-11.