A Watchmen from Jerusalem Teaching Part 2 of 2
Chuck Cohen, Co-director, Intercessors for Israel
This two part teaching is an expansion on some questions I wrote down while preparing to speak to a group of British pastors and leaders. I knew that some in attendance did not have a solid understanding of God’s plan for Israel’s end-time restoration. I also knew that one of the main issues was the way many believers view the Old Testament – the Tanach – seeing it as somehow less valuable than the New Testament, or worse, no longer God’s Word for them or for the world. This teaching will give believers a better grasp of these issues, supplying scriptural ammunition against some ‘traditional’ errors of man by which the Adversary tries to obscure the truth of God’s Word.
These are the questions that will be addressed in part two:
How did Messiah Yeshua interpret Tanach prophecies?
How should we see Israel’s modern-day restoration?
God loves His Jewish people, but does God really care about Israel as a nation?
How did Messiah Yeshua interpret Tanach prophecies?
Does the Church’s method of interpreting the Old Testament line up with how Yeshua and the New Testament writers interpreted it? Or is today’s Church afflicted with theological dyslexia?
Yeshua’s interpretation of God’s Law
When Yeshua was talking about the Law1 of God, He did not say, “The Law says…Now I say…” What He said was,
You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones…Now I say… (Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44). In this way He was fulfilling the Law (Matt. 5:17), which was a rabbinic idiom for explaining what the law really intended. Destroying, or abolishing, the law was to explain it in a way that God did not intend for it to be taken.2 Yeshua explained the true extent of the Law, and made it obvious that no one could keep it in their own righteousness. Paul agrees with Him (Gal. 3:24) that the law was meant to be a teacher exposing the root problem of our sinful, wicked hearts (Jer. 17:9; see also Gen. 6:5; Matt. 15:19).3
Now if anyone should know what the law is all about, it is Yeshua. In His pre-incarnate state as God the Son, He was not yet the God-man whom He is now and forever. Yet it was the pre-incarnate Son who gave the law to Moses on Mount Sinai. After all, if John 1:18 is a Spirit-revealed truth, that no
man has seen God at any time, but
the only begotten Son, who is in the Father’s bosom – He has revealed Him , then all theophanies (appearances of God in the Tanach) must be the pre-incarnate Son of God who is Israel’s Anointed King, the Messiah, our Lord Yeshua.4
And what is God the Son teaching us about His law in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:21-48)? Recall that just before He started explaining the true depth of God’s law, He said,
Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. (Matt. 5:17) Again, this is a rabbinic idiom. To “destroy” God’s Word is to explain it in a way that He did not intend, while to “fulfill” God’s Word is to bring out the correct meaning. So everything Yeshua says about the Law of Moses, the Law of the Lord,5 contributes to revealing the purpose for which the Law was given.
Yeshua illuminates the spiritual principles underlying the literal interpretation of the law. He says breaking God’s law is not only when we murder, but also when we have unjust anger; it is not only when we cheat on a spouse but when we first desire someone else; and He continues to apply this higher standard to swearing, lying, hating our enemies, etc. Messiah came to make sure that we understand that mankind’s real problem, the fallen nature impacting the thinking, emotions and will – cannot love God and follow His ways until it is transformed by His Spirit in the new birth.
This is exactly what Moses also said in Deuteronomy, his summary of the law of God, and the one verse that sums up Moses’ summary states,
You shall love YHWH your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. (Deut. 6:5) Yeshua added one other verse to sum up all of the law and prophets, and we first find it in the depths of the law, in Leviticus 19:18b.
…you shall love your neighbor as yourself… (cp. Matt. 22:37-40)6
In Deuteronomy Moses used two words to sum up 40 years of God’s revelation of Himself and His law. He mentions “love” 18 times and “heart” 47 times. Because God loves us, His people, He gave us the law to show us how incapable we are of ever perfectly keeping His righteous commands, pointing out our desperate need of His help, His mercy and undeserved acceptance, that is, His grace.
This is why Yeshua clarified the spiritual depth of what the law was saying. Of course we should try to keep those parts of God’s law which the Spirit of God points out to us. The Spirit knows the deeper principles each of us needs to pay attention to, and how not to get trapped in only a literal interpretation. Yeshua points out the heart of our problem – which is our “heart”, the inner man, composed of the mind, emotions and will (Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:21; Heb. 3:12).
Yeshua’s interpretation of God’s prophetic word
When it came to the prophecies, Yeshua interpreted them literally, expecting that what was written would actually come to pass in reality and not allegorically or just spiritually. And while there are spiritual lessons one can apply in many of the prophetic words in the Tanach (1 Cor. 10:11), yet there is a faith-filled expectation throughout the NT of their literal fulfillment. The Bible is based on verifiable historical truths – it is not just a spiritual treatise – and it is the only religious book of any major religion that contains prophecies that have become real history. Often we read in the NT in one form or another, “This is that…”, or “This happened so that what the prophet said would come to pass.”7
Take Messiah’s birth as an example:
When gathered all the chief priests and scribes…he demanded to know where Messiah would be born. They said in Bethlehem of Judah, for it is written by the prophet, ‘And you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the princes of Judah, for out of you shall come a Governor, who shall rule My people Israel’. (Matt. 2:4-6; ref. Mic. 5:2)
The appearing of John the Baptist to Israel was foretold:
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judah, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of YHWH; make His paths straight’. (Matt. 3:1-3; ref. Isa. 40:3)
Messiah’s miraculous authority to heal was foretold:
When evening was come , they brought to many that were demon-possessed, and He cast out the demons with His word, and healed all that were sick, so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities , and bore our sicknesses’. (Matt. 8:16-17; ref: Isa. 53:4)
His miracles as a fulfillment of God’s Word are a proof of His Messiahship:
Now when John heard in prison the works of Messiah, he sent two of his disciples to ask Him, ‘Are You He who should come , or should we look for another?’ , ‘Go and show John those things which you hear and see; the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. (Matt. 11:2-5; ref. Isa. 29:18-19; 35:4-6) Even Yeshua’s reason to speak to the crowds in parables was to fulfill prophecy (Matt. 13:10; ref. Isa. 6:9-10; Matt. 13:34-35; ref. Psa. 78:2).
Why did Yeshua send His disciples to get a donkey for Him to ride on as He was about to go up to the Temple for the last time? So that
it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King comes unto you, meek, sitting upon a donkey, and a colt the foal of a donkey. (Matt. 21:4-5; ref. Zech. 9:9)
Even what His Roman executioners did at the foot of His cross fulfilled prophecy:
They crucified Him, and parted His garments, casting lots for it that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet , ‘They parted My garments among them, and over My clothing they cast lots’. (Matt. 27:35; ref. Psa. 22:18)
That is a small sample of fulfilled prophecies that are mentioned only in Matthew’s gospel, the first New Testament book. Some say that more than 300 prophecies were fulfilled during the years from Yeshua’s incarnation to His ascension and that more than one-third of the New Testament is either quoted from or alluded to in the Tanach. So how can one understand the importance of the New Testament if one does not know the Old Testament prophetic foundation upon which it is based?9
A few more of the many prophetic fulfillments found in the rest of the NT
With His dying breath,
Yeshua knowing that all things were now accomplished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, He said, ‘I thirst’. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, put it upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth. (John 19:28-29; ref. Psa. 69:21)
After Yeshua’s ascension, Peter said to his fellow disciples,
Men and brethren, this scripture needed to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke by David concerning Judas, …For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry…For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his office let another take. (Acts 1:15b-16, 20; ref. Psa. 69:25 & 109:8)
On the day of Shavuot/Pentecost, Peter declared that
this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: (Acts 2:16-17; ref. Joel 2:28)
Then he continues,
This Yeshua God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted by God’s right hand and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this which you now see and hear. For David has not ascended into the heavens, but he said, ‘YHWH said to my Lord, Sit on my right hand, until I make Your foes Your footstool.’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made that same Yeshua whom you crucified – both Lord and Messiah. (Acts 2:32-36; ref. Psa. 110:1)
Paul uses the fulfillment of Tanach prophecies in all of his writings.
Paul, a servant of Yeshua the Messiah, called to be an apostle, separated unto the good news of God, which He had promised before by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures , concerning His Son, Messiah Yeshua our Lord, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; (Rom. 1:1-3; ref. 2 Sam. 7:12; Psa. 132:11) And again,
The scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the gentiles through faith, preached the good news unto Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all gentiles be blessed’. (Gal. 3:8; ref. Gen. 12:3)
It should be obvious that the book of Hebrews would make absolutely no sense if the Tanach was no longer the Word of God. And Revelation, the final New Testament book, is so Hebraic in nature and language – being in the genre of Jewish apocalyptic literature – that the reason why many are so befuddled by it and misread what it says is that they do not understand its deep Tanach roots in theology, in ideology, and in metaphor.
So Yeshua explains the spiritual principles behind the Law of Moses, but expects a literal fulfillment of the prophecies. Yet much of global Christianity is afflicted with theological dyslexia and does just the opposite! It interprets the law literally, and would join those wanting to punish the woman caught in adultery – and at the same time it has for at least fifteen hundred years interpreted the prophecies allegorically or spiritually, instead of literally as Yeshua did.
We know someone who said that when she was in Sunday school in England in the middle of last century, the teacher would teach them to substitute the word “Church” every time the word “Israel” occurs in their Bibles. No wonder so many of today’s leaders and lay people have no clue as to what God is doing in the world. They have been seduced into thinking that social justice needs more attention today than current fulfillments of prophecy.10
So how should we see Israel’s modern-day restoration?
Is it God, or is it just a political mistake – a fluke of history? In history, no other nation or people have ever returned from an extended exile among other nations even after only hundreds of years, let alone the nearly two millennia that the Jewish people have endured. In open sight of the world they are returning to the land of their ancestors, speaking and updating their ancient language, resurrecting an economy, resuscitating a desiccated ecology, seeing the desert blossom and Israel’s agriculture filling the world with fruit, defending themselves by an
exceedingly great army (Ezek. 37:10), and surviving against all odds. All of this is in line with literal fulfillments of prophecies, including the many that say they will come back in unbelief (see below). Such a miraculous restoration is beyond any fluke or chance of history. This modern-day restoration of Israel is exactly what Moses, the prophets and the writings have described.
Ezekiel 36 is a key chapter
While there are many chapters and verses which describe in detail what we see today, Ezekiel 36 gives the clearest revelation of why this restoration of the Jews to the land of Israel and then to their Messiah is vital for the Church to understand. Through Ezekiel God reveals to His Church that the Jewish regathering unto their land is not because Israel is so righteous or loving or trusting in Yeshua (vs. 21-23, 32), but that it is for His holy name’s sake!
In Ezekiel 35 God curses Edom’s mountains, then in chapter 36 He blesses Israel’s mountains. In 35:2, God commands the prophet to
prophesy against Mount Seir, the region where Edom, the descendants of Esau, resided (Deut. 2:5). Esau/Edom is one of the spiritual roots of Islam, and in Ezekiel 35 we can see that same spirit which manipulates anti-Semitic/anti-Israel Islamic terrorists today, being attributed by God’s Word to Edom around 2,500 years ago.
God declares that He Himself will destroy Mount Seir (v. 3-4). His reason for doing so is made plain in verse 5.
Because you have had perpetual hatred, and have poured out/shed the sons of Israel by the hand of the sword in a time of distress… God watches over His promise to curse those who curse Israel (Gen. 12:3b; Num. 24:9b). That principle applied in Abraham’s day, in Ezekiel’s day and it still applies today.
Ezekiel 35:6 is an example of the spiritual principle found in Galatians 6:7:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he also will reap. The ancient Edomites, and many of today’s fundamentalist Muslims, claim to love death and love bloodshed, so God says,
I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you. Since you have not hated blood, even blood shall pursue you.
Is this not what we are seeing today in the Middle East and just about everywhere else where Koran-believing Muslims reside? This is exactly what we see among the Palestinians, rejoicing when their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, are killed trying to slaughter those “infidel” Jews. Since they do not hate blood, the shedding of blood is honored in their evil, ideologically-driven death cult dedicated to global domination. The photos of them celebrating in the streets and passing out candy just after 9-11 are iconic.
God’s declaration of judgment on the ancient nation Ezekiel was prophesying to in verses 7-9 has become history. In verse 10, while still speaking to Edom/Idumea/Mt. Seir, a spiritual principle is laid down that applies to nations today.
Because you have said, ‘These two nations and these two lands11 shall be mine, and we shall possess it’, yet YHWH was there… Even when the Jewish people were sent into exile, and recall that Ezekiel was prophesying from Babylon, since this land is God’s, He still “dwelt” there, guarding His inheritance and the inheritance of His people.12
In verse 11, God says His judgment will be just. He will repay them with what they planned, or did, to His people (see also vs. 14-15). After His judgment, He will then reveal Himself to His people.
And I will make Myself known among them when I have judged you. David, in Psalm 9:16, mentions both the judgment and by it, the revelation of God:
YHWH is known by the judgment which He executes; the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.13
The spiritual truth in verses 12-13 should put the fear of God into people whose nations are trying to divide His land.
You shall know that I am YHWH, and I have heard all your blasphemies which you have spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are desolate! They are given to us for food. Thus with your mouth you have boasted against Me, and have multiplied your words against Me, and I have heard them.
God is speaking to those who say they can do what they want with His land. He calls it “blasphemy” and warns those who dare to do this. In our present day context, how could He not be angry with governments and media, teachers and pastors who call the mountains of Israel “the occupied territories” without even knowing by whom they have been occupied and for how long and why they changed hands so many times?
In biblical times, and for many in Israel today, this area is known as Samaria in the north, Judea to the south, with Jerusalem nestled in the midst at a half-mile above sea level, and most likely included the Golan Heights – biblical Bashan – which has been part of Israel’s inheritance ever since God guided Moses to defeat their attackers (Num. 21:34; Deut. 3:2).
In Ezekiel 36:1-5 God has His prophet
prophesy to the mountains of Israel (v. 1).Verses 2-4 describe all that God’s enemies (Psa. 83:2) have blasphemously spoken against His mountains (cp. v. 5). In fact, verse 3 sounds like a report of all the verbal garbage that comes out of the UN, the EU, the US, and the Arab and Islamic nations, as God says to this area of His land,
Thus says the Lord YHWH, Because you have been dishonored and hated by those round about you, that you might be a possession to the remainder of the gentiles and have become the subject of gossip and slander for the peoples;…14
Thus says the Lord YHWH, Surely in the fire of My jealousy I have spoken against the rest of the nations/gentiles, and against all Idumea , who have given My land to themselves for a possession with all joy of heart, with contemptuous souls, to make it open land for a spoil. Here God clearly declares that this land is His, and it is not to be seen like any other piece of property.
In Ezekiel 36:6-15, God speaks to the land and commands it to bear fruit for His people, for they will be returning.
But you, mountains of Israel, you shall put forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to return. For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. I will multiply men on you, all the house of Israel – all of it – and the cities shall be inhabited, the ruins shall be built…I will do better to you than at your beginnings, and you shall know that I am YHWH. Yes, I will cause men to walk on you, even My people Israel. They shall possess you, and you shall be their inheritance… (36:8-12) He continues to speak in this way until verse 15.
To summarize: in Ezekiel 35 God curses the mountains of His/Israel’s enemies. In Ezekiel 36:1-15, God blesses the mountains of Israel. Then from verse 16-38 God deals with His people, and He is not very pleased with them, because by their actions His name has been profaned , among the nations.
In verses 16-18, He exposes the sin and iniquity of His people on His land – specifically bloodshed and idolatry. Thus He scattered them from His/their inheritance among the nations (v.19), declaring this drastic action as righteous.
I judged them according to their way and according to their doings.
Note carefully what is said in verses 20-22:
And when they came among the gentiles where they were scattered, they profaned My holy name by saying about them , ‘These are the people of YHWH that are exiled from His land.’ But I had pity for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the gentiles where they went. Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord YHWH: I am not doing this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the gentiles where you went.
First, the gentiles among whom the Jews were exiled profaned God’s name, most likely by attributing to God a lack of power to defend His people from their enemies. For most of mankind’s history, this has been the case: If my God was more powerful that your God, then I would defeat you – and vice-versa. So these gentile pagans among whom the Jews were exiled viewed the gods of the Assyrians, the Babylonians – and later on in history, the gods of the Greeks and Romans as more powerful than the One True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Israel. And since profaning, or blaspheming, basically means making common by distorting the truth, in this case the truth of who Israel’s God really is, these gentiles “profaned God’s holy name.”
Because God dealt with His people in righteousness and justice, and not like the idols/gods whose righteousness, justice, truth, etc. were only concepts defined by man, so, as the next verse says, the Jews also profaned His name, as their sins caused God to have to deal with them in judgment. Their sins were responsible for the gentiles having a warped view of the One True God. This truth confronts us today, as the walk and talk of the Church is the chief way our societies evaluate God. Are we contributing to the sanctification of His name – or are we profaning it?
In Ezekiel 36:23, God takes it upon Himself to sanctify His name/nature – to declare the truth of who He is – and He says He will do this through His still chosen nation, even though they were in exile in Babylon when He was speaking to them.
I will sanctify My great name, which was profaned among the gentiles, which you have profaned in their midst, and the gentiles shall know that I am YHWH…when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. An awesome promise and the Lord goes on to describe exactly how He will accomplish this.
For I will take you from among the gentiles and gather you out of all nations, and will bring you into your own land. (cp. Ps. 85:1; Is. 43:5-7) God’s land (v. 5) is also Israel’s land because Israel is the appointed caretaker of His land (Lev. 25:23). The process of sanctifying His name openly before the world begins with the return of the scattered Jews to the land of Israel. Thus aliyah, the Hebrew term for immigrating to Israel, is linked with glorifying God (Isa. 43:5-7). Once this is understood, the spiritual battle to prevent the Jews from returning home in preparation for the return of Messiah Yeshua becomes obvious.15
Ezekiel 36:25-28, in line with most other verses on the last days regathering of the Jews, states that Israel is restored in unbelief (cp. Jer. 32:34-40; 33:7-9). Why do we say “unbelief”? Because these verses describe in precise detail what it means to be “born-again” or “born from above” and God promises to do this with His people once they are back in His land (cp. Zech. 12:10). In all of Scripture, there is no better description of what Yeshua told Nicodemus about the new birth than what is contained in these verses.
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean. I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from your idols. I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments and do them.16 This description applies to all who are saved, while the next verse applies only to His people Israel.
And you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be My people, and I will be your God.
After promising Israel an abundant land to live in (36:29-30), God confronts them with their sinful ways before their salvation.
And you shall remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall despise yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. (36:31) Israel’s spirit of repentance indicates they have just been saved, and this is in line with what Paul says in Romans 2:4,
Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, and the forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?17
Once more God emphasizes that what He is doing is not for Israel’s sake.
I am not doing this for your sake, says the Lord YHWH, be it known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. (36:32) This is a great comfort to those of us who love Israel, since if Israel’s salvation depended on its own righteousness and good deeds, it would never happen. In fact, this verse should be a great comfort to all of us, for if our being saved and staying saved depended on us and not His saving and sustaining grace, who among us would make it? Yet the Word says that He who begins the good work in us, will complete it.18 Hallelujah!
After all these statements in which God says He Himself will do this for His glory, one verse at the end of the chapter tells us what He wants from us – intercession!
Thus says the Lord YHWH: I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them. (36:37a) Since the Body of Messiah is grafted into Israel’s olive tree (Rom. 11:1-18), and made part of the commonwealth/citizenship of the house of Israel (Eph. 2:12-13), and since we can come boldly into His throne room to find grace and mercy in a time of need (Heb. 4:16), it rests on us to pray this chapter into being. After all, this has to do with our God’s name being glorified and that should be the ultimate goal of us all (Psa. 115:1-3; Phil. 2:5-11).
Two other literal fulfillments to consider
Ezekiel 37:1-10 is a prophetic picture of both the centuries long exile and the Holocaust and yet God says that from that place of death, Israel will arise to become an
exceedingly great army (v. 10), which is what many experts say about the Israeli Defense Forces today (cp. Is. 41:10-16; Mic 4:11-13).
One other note of much interest is the sufficient prophetic proof that, as Israel is being restored to its land, many nations will oppose it (Jer. 33:9; Zech. 12:2-9). Why? Since the world is under the spiritual influence of the Evil One, he will stir up these nations to try and prevent the Lord Yeshua’s return (Zech. 14:2-4). Also, the prevailing spirit of this last age, humanism, strives desperately against this very clear, public proof of a Living God who watches over His Word to fulfill it (Jer. 1:12), proving that God – not man – reigns!
Arise, YHWH! Let not mankind prevail; let the gentiles be judged in Your sight. Put them in fear, YHWH, that the gentiles may know themselves to be but human. Selah. (Psa. 9:19-20)
There are many other prophecies being fulfilled in these days concerning Israel, the nations and the Church. By knowing God’s Word and expecting an actual fulfillment of His prophetic declarations, we can watch and pray with both the Spirit and with our understanding (1 Cor. 14:15).
But the end of all things is at hand: be therefore sober minded, and watch unto prayer.
1 Pet. 4:7
God loves the Jewish people, but does God really care about Israel as a nation?
Without a doubt God is restoring His people to His land. The only time in God’s Word where He declares that He will do something with all of His heart and soul – relates to Israel’s physical restoration.
Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land in truth – with all My heart and with all My soul. For thus says YHWH, Just as I have brought all this great evil on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them. And fields shall be bought in this land…Men shall buy fields for silver, write it in a book, and seal it, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, in the places around Jerusalem, in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south. For I will cause their captivity to return, says YHWH. (Jer. 32:41-44)
Has God brought upon this nation all of the evil that He said would happen if it did not listen to His Word? History is a record of Him doing it. Israel has paid double for its sins (Isa. 40:2) because of all the nations Israel is His segullah – His special treasured possession (Ex. 19:5; Deut. 14:2; 26:18; Psa. 135:4). And God said that as He only had this relationship with Israel, it would be held responsible for its iniquities (Amos 3:2).
So if God has brought all the evil He has promised, literally, with an almost two thousand year exile which involved horrific events, climaxing in at least one third of world Jewry being slaughtered under the Satanically-inspired Nazi regime,19 then why should anyone be shocked that He is bringing all the good that He has promised to them as well – especially as this is happening right before our eyes.
While it is often hardest to recognize prophecy when it is being fulfilled right in front of our eyes, today’s Body of Messiah must see this and respond as God would lead, because the alternative for believers is truly frightening. To think that our God is restoring Israel with all His heart and soul, and yet there are those in His Body who are resisting Him! Unless there is a clear directive from the Lord, we would not want to be involved in any church or group or denomination that in these days is found battling against what God is so clearly and openly doing – for His Holy Name’s sake.
Israel’s modern restoration is an answer to a 2,000 year old prayer of the Church.
Our Father in Heaven, sanctified be Your name. Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth! (Matt. 6:9-10)
As we have seen so vividly in Ezekiel 36, God is restoring Israel to sanctify His Holy Name. By our understanding the revelation in His Word of His authority over history, we can see His will being done here on earth – in full view of the nations and peoples of the world.
1“Law” in Hebrew is Torah, which basically means instruction/teaching. There is no legalistic tag like “do this; don’t do that” in the Hebrew meaning, which some believers tend to see with this word when they read it.
3 Our twisted sinful nature is impossible for us to heal except by God though His divinely ordained method of imparting a new heart and a new spirit (Ezek. 36:25-27), which we label as being born-again, or born from above (John 3:3). Salvation is a gift of God by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9), based on the historical event of the cross, burial and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua (Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 15:1-4).
4 Adam was with God in the garden (Gen. 2:15-17; 3:8-13). Abraham stood before Him, interceding for Sodom (Gen. 18:1, 20-33). Jacob wrestled with the angel of YHWH (Gen. 32:24-30). Moses saw God face to face (Ex. 33:11; Deut. 34:10). As it is now revealed through John that
no man has seen God at any time, all these appearances of God, and all other theophanies in the Tanach, are God the Son revealing His Father’s very nature. And Yeshua says that even after He became a man, He still does this:
‘If you have known Me, you should have known My Father also, and from now on you do know Him, and have seen Him’. Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it will be enough for us’. Yeshua said, ‘Philip, have I been with you for all this time, and yet you do not know Me? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. So how can you ask Me to show you the Father?’ (John 14:7-9)
When the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. (Luke 2:22-24) Note that the Law of Moses = the Law of the Lord.
6 A “neighbor” included all non-Jews who joined themselves to Israel’s God, as Leviticus 19:34 says,
…the stranger that dwells with you shall be to you as one born among you , and you shall love him as yourself…
7 In Yeshua’s life, many of the Messianic prophecies happened to Him without any effort on His part – such as His birth in Bethlehem, or His returning to Israel from Egypt. Yet at other times He fulfills the prophetic word by willful actions, like when He directs His disciples to get Him a donkey to ride on to enter Jerusalem for His final week.
8 John the Baptist was not a “Baptist” as we would label someone today, but he was a Messianic Jew.
9 If teachers of the Word, from Sunday school to theological seminaries are not teaching that many happenings concerning Yeshua have been foretold in the Old Testament, then they have missed a golden opportunity to strengthen the faith of their students and glorify the God of Israel.
10 For those who see social justice as more important that the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, please know that the god you believe in is very small and ineffectual and unbiblical. Our God, the One who reveals Himself in the Bible, is more than able to be socially just and fulfill His word without there being any conflict whatsoever. God’s fulfillment of His word to re-establish Israel in His land is also what is best for the Palestinians. The more their false Islamic god is defeated – the more they understand that Israel’s God is God. We are more desirous for the Palestinians to have an “eternal state” with Yeshua that have a “political state” which would only confirm in their minds that Allah is greater than YHWH – the God of Israel and the true Church.
11 The two nations and two lands referred to are the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah. After the Babylonian captivity, the returning exiles were then known as the Jewish people, and the nation – both land and people – was, and still is, called Israel (Luke 2:20-21; Acts 13:17).
12 References to the land of Israel being God’s land: Lev. 25:23; Deut. 32:43; Josh. 22:19; 1 Kin. 8:36; 2 Chr. 7:20; 20:11; Psa. 2:6; 3:4; 10:16; Isa. 14:2, 25; 57:13; Jer. 2:7; 16:18; Ezek. 36:5, 20; 38:16; Hos. 9:3; Joel 1:6; 2:1, 18; 3:2; References to the land being God’s inheritance: Ex. 15:17; Josh. 22:19; Jer. 2:7; 16:18; Joel 3:2
13 Although many believers today do not like to hear that the God of love is also a God of judgment, yet He is, and much of what is happening in nations that try to divide His/Israel’s land is a direct result of His judgments (Joel 3:1-2). Also, do you realize that we were saved by the God of judgment? God is just and if He were simply to forgive us our sins, saying, “I love you. Forget about all those things you did and receive My salvation because of My love,” then we would think, “Wait a minute. How can I worship and love a God whose sense of what is truly just is less than mine? I know I deserve to be judged for my sins, and anything less than complete judgment would make God less than totally just – and that is not who He says He is.” God solved this serious dilemma by sending His Son to take the death sentence for our sins on Himself on the cross. And since Isaiah 59:1-2 says,
Behold, YHWH’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear – but your iniquities have come between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear, therefore, as He has removed our sins through His Son’s sacrifice, we now do know Him and Psalm 9:16a is still true today:
YHWH is known by the judgment which He executes…
14 In verse 4, when God speaks to the “mountains”, according to Hebrew parallelism, He is actually speaking to all of the land of Israel:
to the mountains, to the hills, to the rivers, to the valleys, to the deserted wastes, and to the cities that are forsaken. The exact boundaries of the Promised Land are not precisely laid out in Scripture, although if we take what God covenanted to Abraham in Genesis 15:18-21, the ultimate boundaries are a lot bigger than what Israel has today!
15 The “first aliyah” occurred in the 1880s, and since then huge revivals have broken out worldwide. Some missiologists say that more people have come into God’s Kingdom since the 1900s than all previous centuries put together. Today, there are more ex-Muslims in the Church than ever before and some missiologists report that the fastest growing church in the world is in Iran. Also, reports of revivals among the Chinese, the Indians, the Vietnamese, the Mongolians, in Egypt and in Africa, are breathtaking. And, as an indication of the lateness of the hour, there are more Jews worshipping Messiah Yeshua in the world today than at any other time since the book of Acts.
16 It is very possible that Yeshua was referring to these verses when He challenged Nicodemus with,
Are you the teacher of Israel and do not know these things? (John 3:10)
17 We also see true repentance coming after salvation in Zechariah 12:10-14. While many think one needs to repent to be saved, the Bible actually says one needs to be saved to repent. Ask yourself this, have you stopped repenting after your initial encounter with the love of God in Messiah Yeshua – or has that revelation led you to a life of continuous repentance as He reveals to you more and more of your deceitful, wicked heart (Jer. 17:9-10)? John the Baptist and Yeshua were speaking to a God-fearing, God-knowing nation – Israel – when they said
Repent, for the kingdom of God is among you. Peter was also speaking to Jews who came up to Jerusalem to worship the One True God when he told them to
repent and believe the good news. Yet Peter did not confront Cornelius with repentance – but with the good news of Yeshua. As God says to Israel,
I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, as a cloud, your sins; return to Me; for I have redeemed you. (Isa 44:22)
18 Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; Heb. 12:2; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; Jude 1:24-25; etc.
19 This does not mean that God orchestrated how far all these events went, as Satan took advantage of man’s rejection that Israel was/is chosen and tried to destroy them and God’s witness at the same time (Zech. 1:14-16).