Why is it that a country no larger than Wales and with a population little greater than Scotland’s is in the news virtually every day? And not only is it in the news, but it seems to occupy constantly the attention of the world’s politicians and media. Conflicts between Jews and Arabs (whether Palestinian, Syrian or Iranian) seem to permeate so much of the news today.
None of this is by chance. Israel and its issues are so prominent today because it has such an important history and a very significant future. Much of Israel’s history is recorded in great detail in the Bible, a book Christadelphians are confident is the word of God. The Bible makes it absolutely clear that Israel are God’s chosen people, and that although they are not, in the main, a God-fearing people today, they are still the centre of God’s plan.
What’s so special about Israel?
Consider some simple information about Israel recorded in the Bible:
- As early as 2000BC God promised to Abraham, a particularly faithful man, that He would make from him a powerful nation: “I will make you into a great nation” – Genesis 12 v 2. That nation was to be Israel.
- God promised that Israel would occupy its own land. When Abraham stood on a mountain in the middle of Israel, God said “Look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring for ever.” – Genesis 13 v 14, 15. It is this land that Jews and Palestinians dispute today.
- Israel was given very detailed laws to follow, part of which was the 10 commandments. These commandments still form the basis of many legal systems today. By these laws neighbouring countries would realise Israel was special. “See, I have taught you decrees and laws… Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations” – Deuteronomy 4 v 5, 6.
- If Israel did not follow God’s laws they were to be punished, often by being driven out of the land promised to them. But God would not forget them, and promised to bring them home.
Do not be dismayed, O Israel… I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile – Jeremiah 30 v 10 (NIV)
This is a remarkable Bible prophecy and has been fulfilled in recent history. The Jews, scattered worldwide after the death and resurrection of Jesus, returned to the land of Palestine and in 1948 formed the State of Israel.
There is more to come. Israel with few friends and many enemies will need God’s help in the very near future, in their last battle against their enemies. When they realise this and repent, God will help them by sending Jesus back to the earth to fight for them. Jesus will then become their king and the Kingdom of God will begin on earth. As the angel Gabriel said to Mary:
He will be great… and he will reign over the house of Israel for ever; his kingdom will never end. – Luke 1 v 32, 33 (NIV)