Israel in Prophecy, Pt. 2

Recording: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join our hosts 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 tuned because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's word.
John Bradshaw: Hi friends and welcome again to Bible Talk where we take the Bible subjects affect you right where you are today and wrestle with them and get to the bottom of them and find out the truth of God's word. I'm John Bradshaw, glad to have with me Gary Gibbs. Hi Gary.
Gary Gibbs: John it is good to be here and yes, indeed, we are talking about truths that affect you today because we are talking about Israel today.
John: It seems that you can't turn on the television or hear the radio news or every media outlet is talking about Israel. There is always atrocities and troubles going on in the Middle East. Israel, for a little nation, has drawn a whole lot of publicity and right now at this delicate stage in the history of the Earth. With the theologians and bible preachers focusing in on Israel, it seems like news about Israel is everywhere.
Gary: John what we learned last time was that it doesn't matter what's happening in the Middle East. The Israel of the Bible and of the New Testament now, is not the Israel nation over there in the Middle East but its God's people, its God's church.
John: That's what the Bible makes very, very clear. In Galatians it says that if you belong to Jesus that makes you a descendant of Abraham. Paul wrote to the Romans and he said that the Jews, the true Jews today, aren't people who are Jews outwardly but people who are Jews inwardly. People who've been circumcised in the heart, you see. So God's Israel today is a spiritual Israel if you belong to Jesus. Ladies and gentlemen that makes you a Jew.
Gary: In Galatians 3:29 you were just referring to says, "If you be Christ then are you Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise". Now that's a critical phrase there because a lot of the teaching today concerning literal Israel says, all of the promises to ancient literal Israel have to be fulfilled in Israel today in order for Jesus to come. What do you think about that John?
John: Well I think that's totally wrong.
Gary: That's it. That's kind of the bottom line. Isn't it?
John: I thought I'd be subtle about that and just tell you that that is just not the way the Bible is applying.
Gary: Well listen. A lot of people though believe that. We hear a lot of scriptures read throughout the Old Testament. Israel's going to return to the land, temples going to be rebuilt. What about all those scriptures? What do they all apply to if they don't apply to Israel?
John: Well let me say, I disagree very respectfully now, very respectfully. But God spoke to Israel and He said, if, if, if. I will give you this. I will bless you that way. These promises will be fulfilled in you and to you, if you will be obedient. If you be willing and obedient you should lead the fate-able land. If you do this. If you obey me, God said, I will fulfill my promises in you. So you've got God saying that tremendous things are going to happen in Israel? There's two ways to look at that. Some of those prophecies in the Old Testament about Israel coming back to their land, they've been fulfilled in the past.
Gary: They've already been fulfilled.
John: Many of them have been.
Gary: But they don't refer to Israel returning in 1948?
John: You've got to be very careful how you look at the Bible. You remember that Israel was in captivity for a number of years, seven years in Babylon.
Gary: OK and this is like what, 600 years before Christ?
John: That's right. God spoke to Israel through the prophets and he said, I will have you return to your land. Indeed they did go back to their land after their exile in Babylon.
Gary: I think it's important, a lot of these texts that we hear read to us about the return to the land are coming out of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. These were all people who lived prior and during the early part of the Babylonian captivity.
John: Absolutely.
Gary: So it's telling them you're going to return to your land. It did happen after Daniel and after that era right there.
John: Sure these were prophets raised up primarily, primarily to bring the message of God to the people of God at that time. So the primary application was to those people, "If you-- then you". If you obey, if you turn your hearts back to the Lord, if you'll get back on track with the God of then heaven, then you will return back to your land. That's absolutely what happened. You know this, Artaxerxes decreed this out. You read it about in Ezra Chapter Seven. He said all right you can go back. You can go back and rebuild the place, you can restore the government. No question.
Gary: They did rebuild the Temple didn't they?
John: Absolutely they did. The book of Nehemiah's all about the rebuilding of the wall and the resetting up of the society. And that promise was fulfilled in those people back then and they went back to their land.
Gary: So when they got back to the land, one of the things as I understand it happened is, they didn't stay loyal to God. Did they? Then they left God again and didn't fulfill his purposes. You come down to the time of Jesus and Jesus actually tells the Jewish nation in fact, in Matthew 22. In fact why don't we turn to it there, Matthew 22, I believe it's verse 42. He says, "The Kingdom of God will be taken from you . . .".
John: That's right.
Gary: ". . . and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."
John: Right. You are talking about Matthew Chapter 21.
Gary: 21. Thank you.
Gary: I'll read verse 42, "You never read in the scriptures the stone that the builders rejected. The same has become the head of the corner. This is the Lord's doing. It is marvelous in our eyes. Therefore say I unto you the Kingdom of God. . . ." Now you cannot miss this. Friends as you're listening to this, I mean just pause a moment here. This is so clear and so profoundly important. And when you read this verse all this talk about Israel being the place where the prophecies will be fulfilled. That all just comes crashing down like a house of cards. Before I go any further, I want to say this has implications for the Christian today in a very real way. "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you. God was speaking to the Jewish people right there. "And it will be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." God was keen to see the fruits develop in the people that call themselves God's people. He didn't see them in Israel. God said fine I'll take the kingdom from you give it to another nation. Who's that nation?
Gary: Peter tells us. In fact in 2 Peter 2, he tells us who that nation is in verse 9. He says, "Ye are a holy nation, you are the royal priesthood."
John: You are this, you are that and he was quoting what Moses said to Israel back in Exodus Chapter 19. Was Peter writing to the nation, the literal nation of Israel?
Gary: Here's what he says in verse 10. He says, "Which in time past were not a people."
John: Were not a people.
Gary: You are not God's people. "But you are now the people of God." In chapter one, verse one says "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ to the strangers, the Gentiles scattered abroad".
John: That's correct.
Gary: So he was writing to the Gentile Christians who were converted. And he tells them that they are now the royal priesthood. That they are the holy nation because they are the ones bringing forth the fruit, showing forth the praises of, 's called them out of darkness into his marvelous light.
John: I'll give you another verse along that same vein, the book of James begins, 'James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the 12 tribes which are scattered abroad', greeting. Now James wasn't merely writing to literal Jews. He was writing to believers in Jesus no matter what their ethnic background. Clearly, James in his mind understood that the 12 tribes really represented anybody who belonged to Jesus He was familiar with Paul's idea. He brought that. He understood that. And that was that if you belonged to Jesus that makes you a descendant of Abraham.
Same is true today. Why is it important? Because my friend. God wants to include you as part of his Israel. Those promises are going to be fulfilled in you. This kind of ups the stakes a little bit. You can afford to say, "Wow, God's got that kind of destiny for me." Yes, he has. He's got such blessing that you just can hardly even understand it.
Gary: And how does he fulfill those promises in us? Are we going to be moving to a kibbutz in Israel? Is that what we're looking forward to?
John: [laughs] I almost lived in a kibbutz at one time. I was traveling all around the world and I said, " Hey, this sounds like a bit of fun." And a friend and I we said, "Man, we might go and live in a kibbutz." Never did which would be too bad, I kind of enjoyed the food. But no, anyway back to this whole idea. I don't believe that God has any desire for everybody to go and live in the Middle East. The bible doesn't give any indication that that is going to take place. God's promises are gong to be fulfilled in the lives and in the hearts. God will make us, as according to the promise 'We will inherit the land.' In a very real way, god is going to restore the promised land-the kingdom of heaven, to his people.
Ultimately if you read what it says in Revelation we'll come back to this Earth. The Earth will be renewed, remade, restored and God's people will populate a recreated beautified Earth.
Gary: Jesus said in Mathew 5, 'The meek shall inherit the Earth.'
John: That's exactly what he said.
Gary: So those are some of the promises that are going to be fulfilled. We'll inherit the land. But now instead of just the literal land there in Israel there. We're really talking about the world.
John: Oh, sure we are. I mean that's not the most desirable piece of real estate I might say with all due respect. So God doesn't want anyone to be . . . Let me say that a little more broadly. It's not God's plan, "Everybody pack up and move to Israel and live on the west bank." No, God can fulfill the promise in your life in your heart. And might I suggest this Gary. Everybody's looking at Israel to be converted and so on.
Gary: Mm-hm.
John: Is Israel a religious nation, yes or no?
Gary: I've been there John. They're actually a very secular nation. Of course you have the orthodox Jews. But as a whole, the nation in many respects is even atheistic.
John: Absolutely. It's kind of a westernized secular nation, about as unreligious as any nation on the Earth. And you mentioned that the religious folks are orthodox Jews and these are people who deny the Messiah has come and they're looking for another Messiah. Certainly not expecting it to be Jesus Christ.
Gary: In fact the picture that most of us Christians have looked at for Israel isn't a pleasant future for Israel. Because what we're saying is going to happen. Is that all the Christians are going to be raptured out of the world. The Anti-Christ is going to move into Jerusalem, going to deceive the Jews and lead them right down to hell.
John: Isn't that interesting. You've got some preachers in the United States who make a big to-do about being the friends of the Jews. And oh, we want to have these receptions for the Jews. And our friends the Jews. And they're saying on the one hand, "You are our friend." And on the other hand, "Buddy you're going to hell."
Gary: That's right you are going to be deceived by the Anti-Christ.
John: How can you have it both ways man?
Gary: So that is the common view. But what we're saying and looking at the scripture is, the real focus in the bible is not on a piece of real estate but it's on the Christian church.
John: Yes.
Gary: So that has implications then. The devil's infiltration is not going to be of Israel.
John: Right.
John: But of the Christian church.
John: Sure. And do you think that we have seen that anywhere in history?.
Gary: I think it's very clear it has happened in history all through time. You know, you have the corruption of the Church in the dark ages with the medieval church. And we have the corruption of the Church today.
John: Sure.
Gary: I mean there are things being taught in the Church today that have no place in the bible whatsoever. We got perverted sexual life styles, we have all sorts of stuff being taught from the pulpits of churches today.
John: Right. Some of things taught in church today can make your hair fall out. It's clear that I've heard some of those things.
Gary: [laughs] Well I'll tell you we do need to have our eyes not on literal Israel. But our eyes need to be on the Christian church. Because that is where the action is. It's an old strategy of war. To make your enemy think that you're going to attack him from one direction and then you attack him from another direction. Because he puts all his energy to protect that front where he thinks you're coming. And then you come at him from another direction. All eyes are on Israel, literal Israel John. But the devil is coming in the back door of the church.
John: Now let's make something clear. That does we have said mean that there is no hope for the Jew, the literal Israelite. Absolutely not. Anyone living in Israel, anybody who is an ethnic Jew can be saved in exactly the same way as anybody else. By grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. We can thank the Lord all be considered when we receive Jesus to be the child of the living God with an eternal future.
Gary: Yes.
John: Another great program Gary. Thank you. And thank you. We'll look for you here next time for more on Bible Talk. [music]
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