Any serious student of Scripture cannot deny that the majority of the Bible speaks about the past, present and future of Israel! Granted you do not read the Bible through the lens of certain traditions, particularly that of replacement theology. Replacement theology teaches that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s plan of salvation. One of the more tragic consequences of this teaching is that it has rendered the prophetic Word powerless. If prophecies are treated at all, they are often spiritualized in such a way that God’s plan with Israel disappears completely. It is fair to say that replacement theology has turned Israel into a vacant old building, which has been robbed of all its household effects.
Well… maybe not all household effects. Replacement theology has always liked God’s blessings for Israel, but not His judgements. Those are still reserved for the house of Jacob. One can understand that this kind of theologizing has angered many of the Jewish people.
Another equally far-reaching pitfall is reading the Scriptures purely individualistic, with the sole purpose of gaining personal blessings. Pity, because our faith often deepens when we discover the complete and collective salvation plan of God, in which Israel has an integral place.
Fortunately, the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 also put the land and its people back on the theological map. Israel’s national restoration has opened many eyes to look for numerous unfulfilled Scriptural promises.
But now there are also new pitfalls to deal with. While there used to be no room for the prophetic Word, nowadays prophecies are read very selectively. In other words: people like to read the prophecies about Israel’s restoration, but not those that state that said restoration will be preceded by very troubling and dramatic events. As the Lord speaks in Zachariah 13: They will call on My name, And I will answer them,” but prior to this verse He says: “And it shall come to pass in all the land," Says the LORD, "That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die…” (vs. 8–9). These prophecies are there to guard us for any misplaced feelings of euphoria, and to be vigilant for the ‘signs of the times’, of which the recent resurgence of worldwide anti-Semitism is troublingly part of.
Respect and Love for Israel
There are many arguments on a strictly human level to show love and respect to Israel. Think about all that the Jewish people have contributed to the sciences, politics, art, literature, music, etc. But for us, as believers, there are other reasons as well. For God has entrusted Israel with his Holy Word. When Paul asks the question “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision?” His answer is: “Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God” (Rom. 3:1–2).
Jewish Prophets wrote down the words of God and Jewish sages carefully preserved them throughout the centuries. We can be thankful for that as well.
The Messiah of Israel also came from Israel. Paul writes: “of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God” (Rom. 9:5). This is why the New Testament begins with the words: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham”! Jesus the Messiah came from Israel, and he came for Israel! In Matthew 15:25, He says: “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Fortunately, the Gospel did not stay in Israel. Jewish apostles and evangelists worked tirelessly to include us in the Good News. It often happened under dire circumstances. How were Paul and his fellow laborers able to do this? Their answer is: “For the love of Christ compels us” (2Cor 5:14).
The Bible for Israel
It is the same love of Christ which today compel us, believers among the gentiles, to give them their Word back. Because “how then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14).
This is why we believe that the distribution of God’s Word has absolute priority. Today, but also in the future!
Jesus tells us in the famous Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 that “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place – whoever reads, let him understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” The abomination of desolation is an idol that will be placed by the
‘son of perdition’ in the rebuilt Temple (2Thes 2:3–4; Rev 13). This event will inaugurate the greatest crisis that the Jewish people will ever face in Jerusalem and Judea.
This is why Jesus instructs: “whoever reads, let him understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains”.
Who else but they who have the Word available to them, will ‘read’ and ‘understand’ and ‘flee to the mountains’. No wonder that Peter writes: “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place…” (2Pet 1:19). We are able – in light of the prophetic word – to discern the times in which we live in. Therefore we ought to give that light to Israel! This is one of the reasons why we believe that handing out the Word of God is not only important for today, but also for the near future!