Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
NUMBER 12, PAGE 28-31

Is There Any Connection Between The Modern State Of Israel And Biblical Israel

Robert H. Farish

The 'mini war' waged between Israel and hostile Arab nations triggered anew speculations about Old Testament prophecy and the modern state of Israel. In six days time, beginning June 5th, 1967, with an expenditure of 679 of its people killed and one hundred million dollars spent, Israel defeated the combined Arab nations. The losses to the Arabs were thirty thousand killed and a cost in materials of ONE BILLION FIVE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS! These considerations along with other facts about the efforts of twentieth century Jews to build a civil state is certainly attention getting, but does not justify the conclusion that, "the significance of Israel's military victory is its renewed evidence that the God of Israel still lives, that his promises of protection and guidance will be fulfilled, and that the establishment of a strong Israel ushers in Act III of the stage of world history, a history that will end as Jesus Christ returns to establish peace and justice for humanity. The real-life drama of human redemption began 40 centuries ago with a man named Abraham..." (ISRAEL Act III — Richard Wolff).

Modern Israel's military victory is not evidence that the God of Israel lives and that his promises of protection and guidance will be fulfilled. How could military victories or any other thing be evidence in proof of the certainty of fulfillment of promises which God has never made? If God's promises of divine protection and guidance were unconditional and applicable to modern Jews, of what is the murdering of three million Jews by Hitler evidence? People need to learn that the faithfulness of God is not tarnished when he does not provide blessings unconditionally in fulfilling conditional promises. Even the protection and guidance which God promised Israel of old was conditioned upon her obeying God — "at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if they do that which is evil in my sight, that they obey not my voice, then will I repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them." (Jer. 18:9,10).

God's Promise To Abraham

God appeared to Abraham while he dwelt in Haran and told him to leave Haran and go to a land that he would show him. At that time God made him the promise — "I will make of thee a nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 12:2,3) When Abraham arrived in Canaan God appeared unto him and said, "unto thy seed will I give this land..." (Gen. 12:7). After Lot was separated from Abraham, God repeated the land promise "lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward and southward and eastward and westward: for all the land thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever." (Gen. 13:14,15). The land covenant, the promise of many seed and the blessing that all the families of the earth would receive through Abraham and his seed, were repeated to Abraham's son Isaac — (Gen. 26:2-5). This covenant was also repeated to Jacob at Bethel (Gen. 28:13-15). The covenant which God made with Abraham involved (1) the land promise (2) Man seed (3) all the families of the earth blessed in the seed of Abraham (4) the promise to protect and bless.

The Numerous Posterity And The Land Promise

The order in which the covenants of the promise are given suggests that the fulfillment of the land and posterity promises precede, in point of time, the fulfillment of the promise to bless all the nations of the earth, this is proven to be the case by the development of the history of Israel as given in the Bible.

The time of the land promise drew nigh when Abraham's posterity had grown and multiplied in Egypt. Note Stephen's statement — "but as the time of the promise drew nigh which God vouchsafed unto Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, till there arose another king, who knew not which season Moses was born" (Acts 7:17,20). The time of the promise is identified by Stephen as the time when God, by Moses, led Israel out of Egyptian bondage and to the land of Canaan. From Stephen's statement we learn that God's promise of a numberless posterity was being fulfilled and that at that point the time of the promise drew nigh.

The land promise was fulfilled when Joshua led the Israelites into the possession of Canaan. Moses said, "behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which Jehovah sware unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them." (Deut. 1:8) After the death of Moses, Joshua led Israel into Canaan and the statement is made — "so Jehovah gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein...There failed not aught of any good thing which Jehovah had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass." (Joshua 21:43,45). Those who believe the Bible believe that God gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Another fact which proves that God fulfilled the land promise is the number of cities of refuge which were set aside. Moses instructed the Israelites — "And if Jehovah thy God enlarge thy border, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers...then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three." (Deut. 19:8,9). Three cities of refuge had been assigned before Moses death and Moses instructs Israel to assign three more if God gave them all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers. Now observe this language "And Jehovah spake unto Joshua, saying, speak to the children of Israel, saying, assign you the cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by Moses..." (Joshua 20:1,2). This assignment was made — "and they set apart Kadesh...Shechem...Hebron Bezer...Ramoth and Golan" (Joshua 20:7-9). A total of six cities of refuge were set aside; this is three cities in addition to the three that had been set aside at the time Moses instructed them to set aside three more cities if God give thee all the land which he promised to give unto the fathers. The fact that six cities of refuge were assigned proves that the land promise was fulfilled.

The Captivity

God through Moses warned Israel that apostasy on her part would result in her being carried away into captivity. "And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me: then I will walk contrary unto you in wrath; and I also will chastise you seven times for your sins...And you will I scatter among the nations, ... and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste. Then shall the land enjoy its sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate..." (Lev. 26:27-34). Jeremiah, who prophesied in Judah, during the last quarter century before Israel was carried into Babylonian captivity, prophesied that captivity — "yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith Jehovah...therefore thus saith Jehovah of hosts: because ye have not heard my words, behold I will send and take all the families of the north, saith Jehovah, and I will send unto Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land...and this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years" (Jer. 25:7-11).

Israel was carried into captivity in fulfillment of these prophecies ' "and he (Zedekiah) also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar...and hardened his heart against turning unto Jehovah, the God of Israel...Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldeans, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary...And all the vessels of the house of God...all these he brought to fulfill the word of Jehovah by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths: for as long as it lay desolate it kept sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years." (II Chron. 36:13-21).

Nehemiah recognized that the Babylonian captivity was in fulfillment of the threat which God had spoken through Moses — "Remember I beseech thee, the word that thou commandest thy servant Moses, saying if ye trespass, I will scatter you abroad among the peoples." (Neh. 1:8). Read Lev. 26 and Deut. 30 etc. for the word to which Nehemiah refers.

The Restoration

God through Moses, Jeremiah and other prophets promised that the Jews would return to Canaan, from the Babylonian captivity, when they returned unto God. Through Moses he said, "And it shall come to pass, when all 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, whither Jehovah thy God hath driven thee, and shalt return unto Jehovah thy God, and shall obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul; that then Jehovah thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the people, whither Jehovah thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine outcasts be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will Jehovah thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: and Jehovah thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it;..." (Dent. 30:1-5)

Nehemiah cited this promise in connection with the Jews return from the Babylonian captivity — "Remember I beseech thee, the word that thou commandest thy servant Moses, saying, if ye trespass, I will scatter you abroad among the people: but if ye return unto me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts were in the uttermost part of the heavens, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen, to cause my name to dwell there." (Neh. 1:8-9). Nehemiah understood that the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity fulfilled the return covenant. In the passage above Nehemiah identifies the return under Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah as the fulfillment of the return promise. Those people in our day who look for the fulfillment of this promise in the future, must close their eyes to the scriptural statement of its fulfillment.

There are those who minimize the return under Ezra, Nehemiah, and Zerubbabel. They insist that the promise involved the return of a far greater number of Jews than actually returned etc. Nehemiah was there, and as an inspired man of God, identified this as fulfillment of the return promise — he knew better the number involved and the extensiveness of the blessings than any modern "prophet." The promise was that God would gather them "from all the people, whither Jehovah thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thy outcasts be in the uttermost part of heaven, from thence will Jehovah gather thee..." Nehemiah used the same phraseology in his prayer, in which he identifies the return which took place during the reigns of Cyrus, Darius and Artexerxes, as fulfillment of the promise. Note his words: "but if ye return unto me, and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts were in the uttermost part of the heavens yet will I gather them from thence..."

"Some centuries after they came into possession of Palestine the Israelites became so corrupt and rebellious that they were carried into captivity. Many of the prophets foretold this captivity. And there were numerous prophecies that they would be brought back into their own land. These prophecies, long ago fulfilled, are now brought forward to prove that the Jews will again be brought back into their own land. It is a miserable perversion of prophecies that had their fulfillment in the restoration of the Jews from their Babylonian captivity." (KINGDOM OF PROMISE AND PROPHECY — R. L. Whiteside)

All The Families Of The Earth Blessed

Paul explained that the promise that God made to Abraham to bless all the nations of the earth through him and his seed was fulfilled in Christ — "Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one. And to thy seed, which is Christ." (Gal. 3:16). It should be evident that the chief, yea the sole, spiritual concern of any man today should be the gaining of the blessings which God has provided in Christ.

Abraham's seed are the heirs according to promise, and they that are Christ's are Abraham's seed, as Abraham's seed they are heirs according to promise. They that are Christ's are the heirs according to promise. This is the Holy Spirit's explanation of the promise — "If ye are Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed heirs according to promise" (Gal. 3:29). The significant question is, how does one come to belong to Christ? This question the Apostle has answered in the earlier verses — "for ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be no male and female; for ye are all one man in Christ Jesus." (Gal. 3:26-28).

Note that it is, "in Christ" that ye are all sons of God; it is "in Christ" that "ye are all (Jew and Gentile) one man"; those "in Christ" belong to Christ; those who belong to Christ are Abraham's seed, they are heirs according to promise. And we get into Christ by being baptized into him. Those who have been baptized by the authority of Christ are sons of God — "as many," (no more, nor less) as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ."

The One Body — The Church

Galatians 3:26,27, makes it plain that one gets into Christ by baptism, but the Bible also teaches that baptism puts one into the "one body" — "for in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free..." (I Cor. 12:13). All, whether Jew or Greek, who were in the one body, were baptized into it. We have already learned that All who are children of God are in Christ Jesus and that, all i.e. "as many of you" as were baptized into Christ Jesus did put on Christ. We get into the one body by baptism, we get into Christ by baptism. The same thing that puts one into Christ, puts one into the one body. The one body is the church - "and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:22-23). Those who are in the church are in Christ. Members of the church are Abraham's seed heirs according to promise.

Before their conversion to Christ, the Gentiles "were separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Eph. 2:11,12). But "in Christ," both Jew and Gentile, are reconciled in "one body unto God" (Eph. 2:16). In Christ they are "fellow -citizens with the saints and of the household of God." (Eph. 2:19).

The Household Of God - The Church

From the above passage we learned that those, "in Christ" are of the household of God. The household or family of God is the church of the living God according to Paul's definition - "these things write I unto you, - that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God which is the church of the living God-4 Tim. 3:14,14).

This is sufficient to prove that the church is the family of God, those in the church are children of God, "and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17). The church is God's Israel today, members of the church are Abraham's spiritual seed, they are the heirs.

The Hope Of The Promise

The hope of the promise made of God unto the fathers is the hope of the Christian regardless of fleshly ancestry. No longer does the Gentile have to live in the world without hope. The hope of the Christian, "the heirs of the promise...(Those) who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before both sure and steadfast and entering into that which is within the veil whither as a forerunner Jesus entered for us, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedec" (Heb. 6:17-20). The object of the hope of the heirs of the promise is heaven. The Christian's anchor is not cast into Palestine but into heaven. Events in Palestine cannot affect the hope of the Christian, Jesus is his high priest forever.

Consider these inspired comments of the apostle Paul on the hope of Israel - "touching the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question" (Acts 23:6); "having hope toward God which these also themselves look-for that there shall be a resurrection both of the just and unjust" (Acts 24:15); "and now I stand here to be judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers; unto which promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. And concerning this hope I am accused by the Jews, 0 king! Why is it judged incredible with you, if God doth raise the dead?" (Acts 26:6-8), "Having therefore obtained the help that is from God, I stand unto this day testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses did say should come; how that the Christ must suffer, and how that he first by the resurrection of the dead should proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles.(Acts 26:21-23);" "For because of the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain" (Acts 28:20).

It was touching the hope and resurrection of the dead that the apostle was called in question, this hope that there shall be a resurrection of the just and unjust was held in common with those Jews who earnestly served God night and day, this was the hope of the promise made of God unto the fathers, the apostle preached only that which was said by Moses and the prophets when he preached that Christ must suffer and rise again, thereby proclaiming light to the people and to the Gentiles. The resurrection of the dead, of which Christ resurrection is a pledge, is the hope of the "just" now as then.

"Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." (Heb. 2:14,14) By providing remission of sins Christ made it possible for all to be just before God; by his resurrection hope is sure and steadfast with the just that they shall be raised from the dead to enter into the joy of the Lord.