Since these covenants are all from Israel’s past, some have improperly taken them away from Israel and applied them to the church today. They adopt the erroneous opinion that Israel’s promises have transferred to the church.
We cannot say enough times that one of the essential principles of the Abrahamic Covenant was that it was unconditional and eternal. Abraham did not have to do anything to receive or maintain this covenant. When reaffirmed His covenant with Abraham, He solemnized His divine oath with the offering of sacrifices (Genesis 15:9-17).
In light of the unconditional nature of the Abrahamic covenant, there are several truths about the Jewish people today that must be maintained.
God Has Retained Israel as His Chosen People
This is not only an OT concept; the NT agrees with it as well,
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? Absolutely not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Or don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he pleads with God against Israel?… Regarding the gospel, they are enemies for your advantage, but regarding election, they are loved because of the patriarchs, since God’s gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable (Romans 11:1-2, 28-29).
Even though they are His chosen people, Jews, as all people, must be born again and place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be saved. Since God is faithful to His promises and loyal in His love, the Jewish people are still His chosen people.
God is Active Today Preserving and Protecting the Jewish People
The Lord through the prophet Jeremiah assures that it will be impossible to destroy the Jewish people (Jer. 31:35-37). That is why the prophet Zechariah says of the people of Israel that whoever touches them touches the pupil of my [God’s] eye (Zechariah 2:8).
Throughout history, there have been those who have sought Israel’s destruction—from Haman to Hitler to Saddam Hussein—but they have never succeeded. Frederick the Great was said to have asked his chaplain for one clear and compelling evidence for the existence of God. The chaplain replied, “The amazing Jew, your Majesty.” Isaiah 54:17 says,
“No weapon formed against you will succeed, and you will refute any accusation raised against you in court. This is the heritage of the Lord’s servants, and their vindication is from me.” This is the Lord’s declaration.
God Is Presently Saving a Remnant of Israel
Paul asserted, in Romans 11:1-5, that God did not reject the Jewish people; and as proof he offered the doctrine of the remnant.
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? Absolutely not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Or don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he pleads with God against Israel? Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and they are trying to take my life! But what was God’s answer to him? I have left seven thousand for myself who have not bowed down to Baal. In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace.
God has always worked through a faithful remnant both in the Old Testament and in the present age. Though most Jews have rejected Jesus, Paul wrote, In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace. Through the church age, there has always been a remnant of Jewish people who believed in Jesus as their Messiah. There are approximately 350,000 Messianic Jews worldwide participating in Messianic congregations. The movement is also evident in Europe, South America, the former Soviet Union, and Israel.
God Is Restoring the Jewish People to The Land of Israel
The Jews had been in exile for nearly two millennia. The Hebrew prophets foretold a day when God would draw them back to the Promised Land.
In 1881 we began to see the first migration of Jews from Eastern Europe back to Palestine to build the homeland. In 1894 Theodor Herzl formed the World Zionist Organization and convened the first Zionist Congress in Basel. This sparked the second wave of Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe.
Then, during World War I, the British Empire through its foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, issued “The Balfour Declaration.” This private letter to the Jewish Lord Rothschild declared that “His Majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and with its best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object…” After the war, this declaration was accepted by the League of Nations. As Jews returned to their ancient homeland, they found support among Bible believing Christians.
By WWII, vast numbers of Jews immigrated back to Palestine. In 1947 the UN partitioned Palestine between the Arab and the Jewish populations. The Jewish state was declared on May 14, 1948. Although attacked soon after by Arab nations, Israel survived; and in 1967 Israel won the Six-Day War which saw the reunification of Jerusalem.
Clearly, this was the dramatic work of God in fulfillment of the Bible’s predictions of a Jewish return to the land of Israel. But how does Israel’s rebirth fit into prophesy? First, the Bible predicts that Israel will return to the land in disbelief. Prophecy indicates that the Jews will turn to God only after returning to Israel (Ezek. 36:24). The national restoration will precede the spiritual regeneration of Israel. Israel has been reborn a secular state by secular Jews, but this is the precursor when the entire nation turns in faith to the Messiah Jesus. Second, the Bible predicts that Israel will return to her land in stages (Ezek. 37). Third, the Bible predicts that Israel will return to her land through persecution (Jer. 16:15-16). Fourth, the Bible predicts that Israel will return to her land to set the stage for end-time events. Daniel 9:27 speaks of a firm covenant between the future world dictator and the Jewish people which will unleash the final events before Messiah Jesus’ return. This prophecy assumes a re-born State of Israel. The Jewish state had to be restored so this prediction (and many more) can take place.
God establishes His plan for Israel in the ancient past by establishing His covenants with the Jewish people. On the basis of these covenants, God continues to work among the Jewish people in the present age. But God has much more in store for Israel in the future. They play a featured role in the outworking of end-time events.
Israel Plays a Vital Role in Starting the Future Tribulation
Jesus can return for the church at any time (rapture). But the Tribulation will begin when Israel signs a covenant with the Antichrist.
He will make a firm covenantwith many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and offering. And the abomination of desolation will be on a wing of the templeuntil the decreed destruction is poured out on the desolator (Daniel 9:27).
Israel Will Be the Focus of the Tribulation
The tribulation period is a time of trouble for Jacob (Jeremiah 30:7). Israel is God’s primary concern during the Tribulation since the church will already have been removed.
(1) The tribulation will be a time of Israel’s persecution (Revelation 12:1-17). (2) The tribulation will be a time of Israel’s cleansing (Ezekiel 20:37-38; Jeremiah 30:11; Zechariah 13:9). (3) The tribulation will be a time of Israel’s service (Revelation 7:3). (4) The tribulation will be a time of Israel’s war (Revelation 16:16; Zechariah 12:3; 14:2).
During the tribulation, all people will suffer, but God’s focus will be on Israel and His goal will be to bring them to faith in Jesus and restore them to Himself.
Israel Will Initiate the Second Coming of the Messiah
We know Christ will return at the end of the 7-year period because Israel will call for His return, and He will do so in His mercy (Matthew 23:37-39). What will cause Israel to do this? Zechariah predicted that at the end of the Tribulation the nations will gather in Israel and attack Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:1-9). The suffering will be so severe and the situation so grave that they will turn to their God for deliverance. God will open their eyes so that
They will look at me whom they pierced. They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly for him as one weeps for a firstborn (Zechariah 12:10).
They will be cleansed,
On that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the residents of Jerusalem, to wash away sin and impurity (Zechariah 13:1).
And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, The Deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob (Romans 11:26).
God will also deliver her from her attackers,
Then the Lord will go out to fight against those nations as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. The Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, forming a huge valley, so that half the mountain will move to the north and half to the south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for the valley of the mountains will extend to Azal. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come and all the holy ones with him (Zechariah 14:3-5).
Israel is the key to the Second Coming.
Israel Will Be the Head of the Nations in the Messianic Kingdom
The Messianic kingdom that Jesus will establish will bring renovation to the earth as well as universal peace. But it will be special for the Jews. All the Jews will have turned to Jesus as Lord and all who are still scattered will be returned to the land and will fully inhabit the land according to the provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant. The Messiah will reign from the throne of David in Jerusalem and will rule over Israel and all the nations. Israel will be the head of the nations (Deut. 28:13; Isa. 14:1-2; 49:22-23; 60:1-3; 61:4-9; Mic. 7:14-17; Zeph. 3:20). The ancient rabbis were right when they said, “Israel is like a vine: trodden underfoot; but sometime later its wine is placed on the table of a king. So, Israel, at first oppressed, will eventually come to greatness” (Talmud: Nedarim 49b).
Copyright © 2006–2021 by Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D.
Dr. Miguel J. Gonzalez is the Founder and President of Reasons for Faith International Ministries. He served as a pastor for ten years in Charlotte, NC and has taught in churches and conferences throughout the United States. He currently hosts the Time in the Word and Truth To Live By podcasts and writes at KnowingChristianity.blogspot.com.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.