Written by Don West
As already mentioned in the previous two articles, God chose Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whom we collectively know as the Patriarchs; changed Jacob’s name to Israel so that Jacob would bear his Creator’s name, that is God (EL); and then with Jacob/Israel’s twelve sons would begin the process of growing Himself a nation. Through twenty-one centuries( 2000 BC-100 AD) God would develop and use this nation of Israel, through its prophets and apostles, to prepare a record for the world (the Bible) to reveal Himself as the One, Sole, and Only God and the many aspects of His nature: Perfection, Supremacy, Incomparability, Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Patience, Longsuffering, Forbearing, Kindness, Tenderness, Compassion, Loving, Merciful, and Gracious, to name just a few; as well as His Triuneness, as Holy Father, Holy Son, and Holy Spirit.
The entire Old Testament is a history of God’s relationship with His people, particularly His immense love for, bountiful provision toward, and protection of Israel. But, there is also a grim and sobering aspect to this relationship between Israel and its God. For Israel was prone to disobey and reject God’s clearly expressed and intended will for His people, and so in this written historical record of Israel and God, we can also see some additional aspects of God’s nature that are given far less consideration by humankind than they should be: Anger, Fury, and Wrath.
Privileged to be a history instructor, I give students several reasons why it is beneficial to study and know history:
1. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
2. A fool is one who has to learn from his own mistakes, but a wise man is one who can learn from the mistakes (history) of others (and correspondingly avoid the frequently bitter consequences that have come to those others).
3. Learn from other people’s mistakes; you cannot possibly live long enough to commit them all yourself. (I do believe that I am getting close myself, however.)
And here is the really tragic, sole, and singular lesson that comes from the study of history. It applies, unfortunately and grievously, to us individually as well as nationally and internationally: THE ONE THING THAT MAN HAS LEARNED FROM HISTORY… IS THAT MAN DOES NOT LEARN FROM HISTORY!!!
So I submit that a study of Israel is extremely helpful in learning the good, the bad, and the ugly, so to speak, that has occurred in the life of Israel, not only biblically, but also post-biblically, and currently. An experience that would well serve us all if we would but just learn from Israel’s bitter history. But as we undertake this study of Israel, it must be remembered that this is not just the historical account of a nation, it is also the account of the supernatural involvement of God in that nation’s existence and life. A national existence and life which God has both generally and, at times, very specifically set forth in these ancient, but totally and completely relevant today, writings of the Bible.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God states the following: “ …For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” Isaiah 46:9-10 NKJV (italics mine). All of God’s declarations, for general human consumption at least, are to be found in His Written Word; and many of those declarations, not surprisingly, concern Israel, and particularly so since more than half of the Bible is all about that people, land, and nation. Declarations concerning not only the time of Israel’s biblical existence, but declarations made by God that pertained to Israel’s distant future as well. Unfortunately, since most of us are more inattentive to His Written Word than we should be, we, therefore, fail to grasp or know His declarations. About Israel, or anything else.
Dr. David Reagan’s book, The Master Plan, Harvest House Publishers, which initiated my interest in Israel, made some observations that enabled me to begin to read the Bible with an attentiveness to and an alertness for specific points of what God has declared about this nation, and all of which have occurred or are occurring:
1. The CHOSENNESS of Israel. Look for the many, and I mean many, words, phrases, and scriptures which reflect God’s affinity for and intimate relationship with this nation. For a quick start in this area, start with chapters 40-66 of Isaiah.
2. The DISPERSION of Israel. Chosen, yes; but because of sin and disobedience against God, the nation would be driven out of their God given land in 586 BC by the Babylonians for seventy years, and in 70 AD by the Romans for almost 2000 years. Today, the Jewish people refer to all Jews living other than in Israel as being in the Diaspora (dispersion).
3. The PERSECUTION of Israel. During the last 2500 years of Israel’s history, the Jewish people have endured unmitigated hatred, persecution, and violence in repeated efforts to destroy them and, more recently, their nation. Sadly, it continues to this present day. Of the 193 national states that comprise the U. N. today, only one state hears repeated calls for it to be “wiped off the map”: Israel. Courtesy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and his adherents worldwide.
4. The DESOLATION of the land of Israel. As a concurrent event with Israel’s dispersion and persecution, the nation’s land would be diminished, desolated, deserted, and desertized.
5. The PRESERVATION of Israel. Throughout their long exile and concomitant sufferings and tragedies, God’s Written Word indicates that He will preserve His people, and that He will eventually bring about …
6. The RESTORATION of Israel. And I would submit to you, that certainly one of the most important events in the twentieth century occurred on May 14, 1948; when, less than three years after the last Jewish victim died in Hitler’s maniacal, unadulteratedly evil effort to destroy this people, God’s nation of Israel was not only reconstituted as a state, but was done so in the very land that God gave their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel. Just, by the way, as He proclaimed He would through His prophets over two thousand years ago.
“ I (God) declare the end from the beginning…”
(adapted from The Boone County Spotlight; used with permission)
Don West is a new columnist and speaker for Prophecy Matters. His passion for Israel and prophecy is instantly contagious. He is a professor at North Arkansas College in Harrison Arkansas. Dr. West holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas.