God will yet choose Israel
Isaiah 14:1 says, "For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob."
Many denominations hold to the view that God has forsaken the nation of Israel forever. They feel that because Israel crucified their Messiah, Jesus Christ, that God has taken away the promises He made to Israel, and has applied those promises to the present day predominantly Gentile church. However, we must not put "what we feel" above what God's Word actually says. In this article, we will examine the following four statements:
1. God made an unconditional everlasting covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
2. God promised to make a new covenant with Israel and Judah.
3. According to Bible prophecy, Israel will be back in their own land and will be the central focus in the end times.
4. God revealed the mystery of Israel's temporary fall to the Apostle Paul.
God's Unconditional Everlasting Covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
God made unconditional promises to Abraham (originally named Abram) that were not dependent upon any action of Abraham or his descendants. In Genesis 12:3, God told Abram, "... I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." At that time, Abram was 75 years old, and he and his wife, Sarai (later named Sarah), had no children.
Abram was also promised a vast amount of land in Genesis 15:18, "... the LORD (Jehovah) made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates ...." This includes the land where Israel now exists plus a considerable amount of additional middle eastern land.
After more than ten years had passed, Abram and Sarai were still childless. They were growing impatient, and their faith that God would fulfill His promise was weak. So Sarai convinced Abram to have a son by her handmaid, Hagar, and they named the boy Ishmael.
Then about 14 years later, God appeared to Abram. The "everlasting covenant" (Genesis 17:7) is for Abraham and his seed after him: "... all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession ..." (Genesis 17:8). The covenant was later passed down to Isaac. Genesis 17:18-21 says, "And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year." So God's covenant with Abraham passed on to Isaac, but not to Ishmael.
Isaac was the child of God's promise, but Ishmael had been born as a result of Abram and Sarai's lack of faith. So in the eyes of God, Abraham only had one son. We know this because God told Abraham in Genesis 22:2, "... Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." Ultimately God spared Isaac's life, but Abraham passed this test of faith by trusting God and being willing to do as He said.
This covenant was once again confirmed to Isaac in Genesis 26:3-4, "... unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed ...."
When Isaac blessed Jacob in Genesis 27:29 he said, "... cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee."
God also confirmed His covenant to Jacob in Genesis 28:13-15 saying, "... I am the LORD (Jehovah) God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again unto this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of." God confirmed His covenant with Jacob again in Genesis 35:11-12.
God's New Covenant with Israel and Judah
God also said in Jeremiah that He will make a new covenant with Israel and Judah. Jeremiah 31:31-34 says, "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
Continuing in verses 35-37, "Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD." So we know that Israel will be around as a nation forever.
Israel will be the Focus of the End Times
Another reason that we know that God has not forsaken Israel forever is the prominence Israel has in the end time prophecies which are yet to be fulfilled. The Old Testament is rich with prophecies of end time events. All of the prophecies and visions were given to Hebrew prophets, and most of the events take place in, or are centered around the nation of Israel. Here are four examples:
1. The abomination of desolation will take place in the temple which will be rebuilt in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24:15).
2. The battle of Armageddon will take place in the Valley of Megiddo in Israel, where all nations will come to fight against Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3 and Revelation 16:13-16).
3. When Jesus Christ returns to the earth, He will come down to the Mount of Olives, just east of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4 and Acts 1:9-11).
4. In the millennial kingdom, all nations will be required to come to Jerusalem to worship Jesus Christ the King and to keep the feast of tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16).
There are also end time prophecies recorded in the New Testament which show the prominence of Israel. Here are four examples:
1. In the book of Revelation, our Lord Jesus Christ confirmed through the Apostle John that during the tribulation, 12,000 young men will be chosen from each of the 12 tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:4-8).
2. The division between the people of Israel and the Gentiles is quite evident in Revelation 11:1-2 which says, "And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles ...." Under the law of Moses, Gentiles were not permitted inside the temple. This passage reveals that this will once again be the case during the future seventieth week of Daniel's prophecy, which is commonly referred to as the tribulation.
3. Chapter 12 of Revelation tells how the remnant of Israel will be chased into the wilderness by Satan and his armies where they must remain protected by God for the final three and a half years, commonly referred to as the great tribulation (Revelation 12:6 and 17).
4. Finally, Revelation 21:12 says the new Jerusalem will have "... a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel ...."
We know from the scriptures and from history that many prophecies about Israel have already been fulfilled, and that God, sooner or later, always fulfills His prophecies. In addition to the prophecies above, there are many other great prophecies about the prominence of Israel that have never been fulfilled. So this can only mean that they are yet going to take place. Zechariah 8:22-23 says, "Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord ... In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you."
The Mystery of Israel's Temporary Fall
Perhaps the greatest reason that we know that God will one day bring the nation of Israel back into prominence is provided by our apostle Paul in Romans chapter 11. He explains God's plan "to provoke them (Israel) to jealousy" (v.11), adding "... if the fall of them be the riches of the world ... how much more their fulness?" (Romans 11:12). Through the temporary setting aside of Israel, God brought salvation to the Gentiles. But when Israel is returned to that place of prominence in fulfillment of the Bible prophecies, even more Gentiles will be saved as a result.
Paul reveals the mystery of Israel's temporary blindness in Romans 11:25-29 "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion a Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob (the unbelieving portion of Israel): For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching election, they are beloved for the fathers' (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) sakes. For the gifts of God are without repentance." When God made His promises to the nation of Israel, He already knew all the wrong that they would do, including crucifying their Messiah, but He still did not add any conditions to the promises. Despite all of this, God will still fulfill all of the promises which He made to the nation of Israel in both the Old and New Testaments. The Almighty God is a God of His Word.
For more information on the ancient history of the tribes of Israel, their future as outlined in Bible prophecy, and their more recent history, see the article The Tribes of Israel.
Copyright © 1997 Matthew McGee. All rights reserved.