Preachers and theologians are often fond of saying that History is “His story,” meaning that God plans and determines the details and events that make up human history ruling over the process from beginning to end to fulfill His great purpose for Mankind. Nothing could be truer of Israel.
The history of the Jewish people is “His story” played out within human history, which has been revealed, foretold, and written in the Bible. Israel’s history is supernatural from beginning to end. It began with the Patriarch Abraham some 4,000 years ago when God called this nomadic wanderer from Ur of the Chaldeans (Modern day Iraq) to leave his homeland and go into the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1-3).
Abraham obeyed that call and became the father of the nation Israel and the Jewish people. Though Abraham, and Sarah his wife, were well beyond the age of having children (Genesis 18:11), God miraculously rejuvenated the ninety-year old body of Sarah to bear them a son; Isaac through whom God would raise up the people and nation the Messiah would come through (Genesis 21:12).
With the promised child came the Promised Land—the land that is called Israel, where Abraham and his descendants would live. In Genesis 13:15 and 17:7-8, God promised to give the land to Abraham and his descendants (the Jews) for an “everlasting possession” under the unconditional terms of an “everlasting covenant”:
“For all the land which you see I have given it to you and your descendants forever. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.”
Here we observe from Israel’s inception that the history of the Jewish people and their divine destiny is inextricably bound up with the land God promised them. The covenant referred to in Genesis 17:7-8 is formally called the Abrahamic Covenant. It is an eternal covenant made between God to Abraham and his descendants forever. God essentially established through this Covenant with Abraham a people from him (the Jewish people), a place for them (the Land of Israel), so that the purpose of blessing all the nations of the world could occur in perpetuity, that is forever.
Thus God gave the land of Israel to the Jews forever and to no other ethnic group or nation, protestations from the Arabs, Palestinians, and international community notwithstanding. One of the basic laws of Bible interpretation is the law of first mention. The law of first mention states that when a thing is mentioned for the first time in the Bible it carries the same meaning all throughout the Scriptures. It establishes the Bible as consistent in its meaning from beginning to end as it applies to persons, places, events, and things.
In Genesis 13:15 we have the first mention in Scripture stating that God gave the land of Israel to Abraham and the Jewish people forever. This truth is reiterated throughout the rest of Scripture and establishes the rightful owners of the land to be the Jews granted by divine right. There is no deviation or alteration by God from this covenant. It stands for all time. The ongoing struggle for Israel’s right to live in the Land of Promise has already been settled once and for all by the eternal counsel of God as codified and enacted in the Abrahamic Covenant.
God has spoken and His Word on this matter is settled forever (Psalm 119:89); thus all the political wrangling about who the land belongs to is quite simply moot and in the end irrelevant and inconsequential. The current Middle East crisis centers around who owns the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. But unbelief coming from the world disputes and dismisses the whole issue being settled by the inerrant Word of God.
One cannot begin to understand the current Middle East crisis and how it relates to Israel’s past, present and future without knowing and understanding the fundamental importance of this divine covenant. Author Richard Booker wisely wrote: “Indeed the key to understanding today’s headlines and tomorrow’s news lies in the past within the sacred covenant God made with Abraham” (Richard Booker, Blow the Trumpet in Zion, p.17). In the series of articles to come, we will explore how this is true throughout the divine panoramic plan God has for Israel in the past, present, and future as revealed through Bible prophecy.
Part of the reason for the return of Israel’s Messiah will be to enforce the everlasting decree of God’s land grant to the Jewish people and to overthrow the nations of the world in league with the Antichrist who will violently attempt to take the land away from them (Zech. 12-14; Ezekiel 47:13-48:35). In fact, the boundaries God gave for the Promised Land stretch from the river of Egypt (Wadi El-Arish) to the Euphrates River near the Syrian/Iraqi border (Gen. 15:18-21); an area yet to be occupied by the Jewish nation that well includes the two presently disputed areas of Gaza and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).
The covenant God made with Abraham not only would produce the Jewish people from his (“seed”) posterity with a land to live in, but their presence in the world also would greatly benefit and bless mankind. The Lord said: “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Indeed the Jews have brought the world immeasurable blessings. They wrote and preserved the Scriptures (the Bible), which is the number one bestseller in the world and were the people through whom the Messiah came to redeem humanity from sin (Romans 3:2; 9:5). The Jews wrote the Bible and the Messiah Jesus is a Jew.
God subsequently reaffirmed this covenant with Abraham to his son, Isaac, and Isaac’s son, Jacob (Genesis 25:5-6; 35:9-15). From these three patriarchs, God eternally promised the land of Israel to the Jewish people. From a divine and biblical perspective then, the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. And so God chose this Land and the Chosen People to play a central role in His plan of redemption for the world and mankind that naturally involves the past, present, and the future.
The plan of redemption for Israel and the world focuses around two epochal events: The First and Second Coming(s) of the Messiah Jesus Christ. In both advents, Christ has and will personally come again directly to Israel. The covenant God made with Abraham plays a special significance and role in end-time Bible prophecy.
The fact God guaranteed the people of Israel a national existence and homeland forever that brought the material and spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ to the Gentile nations basically defines and determines the primary focus of the whole eschatological program of God. The covenant of Abraham with the provisions of a land, nation, Messianic descendant, and blessing to the world is the building base and foundation upon which the plan of God is built and enlarged through the other covenants.
The creation of the Jewish people and the bestowal of a national homeland via the Abrahamic covenant were preparatory for the first coming of the Messiah. Gentiles who come to faith in Him are adopted into Abraham’s family and receive the blessing promised through that covenant (Galatians 3:8; 14-29). And just as the establishment of the Jewish people as the nation of Israel was crucial to the First Coming of Christ, so too, Scripture indicates that the regathering of the Jews into their ancient homeland, after being scattered throughout the world for nearly 2,000 years.
And the reestablishment of the nation of Israel are necessary for the second coming. In fact, it would serve as a super-sign that will set the stage for the prophesied series of events that will culminate in the return of Christ to Israel. Without the reconstitution of the nation of Israel in our generation, none of the events of End-time prophecy could occur or be possible.
Thomas Ice and Timothy Demy articulate and underscore this point well when they write:
God’s plan for history always moves forward in relation to what He is doing with Israel. Thus, the fact that Israel has been and continues to be reconstituted as a nation is prophetically significant, so significant that it makes Israel God’s super-sign of the end times. Were Israel not a nation again it would be impossible for events of the end times to occur since so many of them take place in that tiny country or in reference to it. But it has returned and so it is that all other aspects of Bible prophecy are also being prepared for the grand finale of history. (Thomas Ice and Timothy Demy, Prophecy Watch, p. 61).