Israel in Prophecy, Pt. 1

Announcer: It is time now for Bible Talk. Join our host, Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw, speakers for the Amazing Facts Ministry as they now open the bible and discuss themes that affect your life today. Stay tune because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's word.
John Bradshaw: Hi friend and welcome to Bible Talk. I'm John Bradshaw and with me is Gary Gibbs. And we got another great program today. Good to have you with us. Hi, Gary.
Gary: Thank you, John. It is good to be here. And our program is one that most Christians think about, hear preach about especially concerning the last days. What is the role of Israel in the last days?
John: What a huge subject. You go to any Christian bookstore, books about Israel, books about the Jews returning to their homeland. Bible prophecy is taught by many...Kind of come to the head with Israel.
Gary: In fact, you just turn on the news. Don't even look at the bible. Turn on the news. All eyes are really on Israel and is such an important integral part of world politics right now. And people say, well, such a tiny little place. It has to have some biblical significance.
John: Well there is no question. Israel has and has had tremendous biblical significance. God raised up the nation of Israel basically to be his church. Then I think if we understand that, that will provide a good basis for us going forward as we talk about this. God called Abraham and so forth eventually the nation of Israel settled on that little patch of earth there in the Middle East. It was on the crossroads of the ancient world. It was a designed to be a place that, if you are going to A to C, you had to go to B Israel. And see the blessing of God and you would be drawn to God and want to be a follower of Israel's God.
Gary: So, John, let's get a little background for Israel. You are leading us down that path. When did the nation of Israel find its first existence?
John: Well, God called Abraham. Abraham gave birth to Isaac. Isaac...Wait a minute, right. Abraham didn't actually give birth to anybody, really did he?
Gary: [laughs]
John: Wow, that's a miracle you never read about in the bible.
Gary: There was a miracle enough of what happened because how old was he when he and Sarah gave birth?
John: Right. He is a man who was about a hundred years old. His wife was...Well, she is 90.
Gary: She is 90.
John: She has a baby. OK. Abraham gave rise to Isaac. He...Well, anyway, you know what happened. There was Abraham. He had a son, his name was Isaac. And then Isaac had two boys Jacob and Esau. And Jacob...Now, something interesting about this. When you name your children. Well, back then when they name their children, they gave them names that meant something and generally reflected their character. Now, when you name your children, are you thinking of the meaning of the name? Let me ask you, did you?
Gary: I definitely did. In fact, my wife is getting ready to have our second child and we are thinking about the meaning. And our first child we name, Charisa Nicole. Charisa is based on the Greek word for grace that is used in the New Testament.
John: Was that right?
Gary: Charisse means God's grace.
John: Well, sure.
Gary: And Nicole is based on the word Nike or Nikonas which means victory. A victorious person so her name means a victorious person by God's grace.
John: Well, my little girl's middle name is based on the word grace as well. It is Grace.
Gary: Well. Definitely, it is based on that word.
John: Right, now my boy. His name is Jacob. Now, I am going to tell you when we were naming Jacob boy, we were wrestled with this a little bit.
Gary: Does Jacob mean something like fat cow or something?
John: No, it doesn't. Well, we tell Jacob his name means good boy who puts his toys away. That is what he thinks it means.
Gary: Does it work?
John: Well, I mean not bad. But the fact of the matter is the name Jacob means a supplant or a fraud stock or a cheat or a crook.
Gary: A deceiver.
John: Yeah, deceiver. Now, truthfully, we wrestled with that a little bit but we just decided Jacob is such a nice name. And nobody else out there is named Jacob. We named our kid Jacob and every kid on the block is named Jacob. But anyway, when Jacob received his name, it was kind of prophetic of the sort of the life that he would live afterwards.
Gary: Because he deceived his father into getting the blessing from his brother?
John: That is right. He deceived his dad. His mother was complicit in the deception. He deceived his brother and Jacob was a pretty fitting name for him. But then, Jacob one night wrestled with God in prayer and in repentance. And God changed his name from Jacob to Israel which means a prince of God, somebody who has wrestled with God and has overcome. Jacob overcame, you see. Israel was then the name of Jacob's descendants. It became the national name. God in Exodus four referred to his people as Israel. Israel meaning those who overcome through the grace of God.
Gary: OK. So this is how Israel is born. It actually dates back to Jacob and the change of his name signifying the change in his life. Change in his heart, he is converted now. So that is God's nation. Those are God's people and they have been blessed by God. You look through the years but you do stop and say boy, they have been so blessed by God. Why are they such a worn torn country and have been for millennia now.
John: Yeah. That's so true. You come down to the day and you say Israel. Who is God's Israel today because all the prophesies seem to point to Jerusalem at least in the hands or in the mouth of today's well known prophecy commentators.
Gary: It sure does and John I just want to turn your attention and ask you about this. You go back to 2 Thessalonians 2, It says that the anti-Christ will sit in the temple of God showing himself that he is God and receiving worship as though he is God. So, doesn't that mean that Israel will be the focal point in the last days. That the anti-Christ is going to go back to Jerusalem and take charge of the temple mount there and sit on the throne and set up his false worship?
John: Gary, let me try to share a principle of prophetic interpretation. I don't mean to be complex here. But when you look at Israel on the Old Testament, you are dealing with a literal notion on a local place. When you go over the New Testament and specifically in the book of Revelation, you are looking at things that are not literal and they are not local. They are spiritual and they are worldwide. God made...
Gary: Wait a minute. He is talking about Israel. He is talking about the temple. How can you say that? You are saying I can't believe what I'm reading here?
John: I'm saying you need to interpret very carefully and very biblically the things you are reading.
Gary: Can't you just take what you are reading face value?
John: Well, you can take it at face value but your face value is going to shine through the lens of the word of God. It is not hard to discern this. Romans 2 says in verse 28, "He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly. Neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly. Circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter whose praise is not of men, but of God." God's Jews, today, according to what we just read and, Gary, can we take that at face value?
Gary: We can.
John: These are people who are Jews on the inside. Galatians 3, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, not abound nor free, not a male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus and if you be Christ's then are you Abraham's seed? And is according to the promise. So those people who today are the descendants of Abraham, people who belong to Jesus. Let me give you another text.
Gary: OK, go ahead.
John: Here it is in Romans 9:6, "Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." Now, that sounds like a contradiction in terms but Paul is saying that not everyone from Israel is really a Jew because there are...
Gary: As spiritual Jew?
John: Spiritual Jew.
Gary: ...person.
John: That is absolutely right because God's true Israel today are those people who belong to Jesus Christ. It is said that if you belong to Jesus, that makes you a descendant of Abraham. So you can be living in Northern Georgia. You could be living in South Carolina. You could be living in Alaska. You could be living in any way you like and if you belong to Jesus then spiritually in the eyes of God, you are one of his chosen people. You are a Jew. You are one of Israel.
Gary: Does that mean the Jews over in literal Israel are not?
John: Israel? Well, it might according to the Bible. According to the bible, it might mean that irrespective of your ethnicity. If you want to be a true Jew in the eyes of God today, you are to belong to Jesus Christ. Now, you could live in Tel Aviv, you can live in Haifa, you can live in Jerusalem and belong to Jesus and be a converted Christian person. That would make you a spiritual Jew. No brownie points awarded for your ethnicity now. It is what you are spiritually so you can live even on the West Bank if you belong to Christ. That makes you truly a true Jew thoroughly and completely. And these are the Jews that God is referring to as his Israel in the last days.
Gary: When you read Galatians 3:29, that last phrase there says if you be Christ then you are already Abraham seed.
John: Right.
Gary: And airs according to the promise.
John: Sure.
Gary: Now, what I've heard preach and I believe this at one time. I had to add is that all the promises made to Israel in the Old Testament have to be fulfilled to literal Israel.
John: Oh.
Gary: And then that is what we are looking for because the bible says God is going to take Israel, make a great nation of them. He is going to restore them to their land. There is all those Old Testament promises about restoring them to their land. That in May 1948 restore Israel to the land.
John: Well...
Gary: And isn't he in the process of fulfilling all these promises? Now you are telling us real Israel according to the New Testament is anybody Jew or Gentile who is a believer in Jesus Christ and in Galatians 3:29, "They are the ones who are heirs according to the promise." Which promise is he talking about? All those that were made for literal Israel in Old Testament?
John: God made many wonderful promises to literal Israel in the Old Testament. But these promises were conditional upon Israel's obedience to God. You want me to read something in the Bible to you that makes that very clear?
Gary: Let's do that.
John: In Exodus chapter...Oh man, am I glad you brought this up because I got another verse the Lord has just brought to my mind. Get ready now. Exodus 19 to begin with.
Gary: [laughs]
John: Verse three. "Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain then he said, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel. You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you to myself. Now therefore, " Are you ready for this?
Gary: I am ready.
John: One of the most important words in the English language when it comes to this all question of Israel on the last days. "Now therefore, if..." Pardon my excitement but what was that word that I just read?
Gary: If.
John: OK. It was if. "Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you will be a peculiar treasure to me above all people for all the earth is mine. You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation." Isn't that something? God said you will receive this blessing if you will obey me. Now, don't accuse me of antisemitism. That would be foolishness. But the truth of the matter is that is Israel, literal Israel, did not obey God and they thought these promises could not be fulfilled in them. And I know I want to read this other verse that I got so exercised about. one Peter two and verse -- let me find this right, here it is -- verse 9, "You are a chosen generation. A royal priesthood, a holy nation of peculiar people."
Peter is quoting Moses. What Moses said to Israel, Peter is saying to the Christian church. So those promises made to Israel were conditional upon their obedience.
Gary: So all those promises are for whoever is the believer today because God transfers them to whoever is Abraham seed, the believer.
John: Quite correct. God could not fulfill all those promises and pour out his blessings on the people of Israel because they separated themselves from the conditions of receiving those blessings.
Gary: Well, John, that just opens the can of worms and in our next program we have to go into this because I have heard many people say literal Israel has a central role in the prophecy. We need to look on this again.
John: Hold on to your head, tighten your seatbelt. This is going to be a lot of fun as we continue to study this very important subject. We are out of time. Offering thanks for being with us today. Join us again next time for more on this subject here on Bible Talk. [music]
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