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Why Israel Is...

“Shall a land be born in a single day? Shall a nation be born in a moment?” [1]

Of course not. Unless that nation is Israel. 

This little country the size of New Jersey looms large not only in the nightly news, but also in the story of civilization. Its people re-emerged as a nation-state nearly 2000 years after the destruction of the Second Temple. Israel is a principal player in the drama of human history. God wrote the script. 

The establishment of the modern State of Israel is an answer to my opening questions from the prophet Isaiah. The event was unprecedented not only because of how it happened, but also because it happened at all. At 4:00 PM on May 14, 1948 Israel did not exist. At 5:00 PM it did. It still does. Why? 


In understanding how a nation could be reborn after being dead for two millennia, we have to understand that it wasn’t actually dead at all. It just wasn’t living at home. Israel is not a spot on the globe. It is a nation of people created by God for a specific purpose.

In Genesis 12, we find the account of God’s calling Abraham from the ancient city of Ur, in present-day Iraq. God made an unconditional, unilateral, unending covenant with this man. He promised to make of him a great nation, to bless him, to make his name great, and to make him a blessing. He assured Abraham that he would bless those who blessed him and curse those who dishonored him, and that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed. [2] God confirmed the covenant using the well-established conventions of the Ancient Near East. He had Abraham kill several animals, split their carcasses in two, and line them up like a gauntlet in his backyard. But this is where God did the unconventional. Normally, both parties of an agreement would walk between the two rows of carcasses, demonstrating that if either one violated any part of the covenant, he or she would meet the same fate as the animals. In this case, God put Abraham to sleep and walked the gauntlet himself, signifying that he would bear the full weight of the covenant’s provisions. [3] 

Two things are notable about this covenant. First, it was made with Abraham, but it included his descendants in perpetuity. Second, God has never rescinded it. 


God told Abraham to look into the night sky and see if he could count the stars. Anyone who has been to the Negev can imagine the heavens on a clear night in the desert. God promised Abraham that his offspring would be as innumerable as the stars, even though Abraham was already an old man and his wife had never been able to bear a child. He promised Abraham a son through whom his covenant would be fulfilled. Then, he did something he has never done for any other nation: he assigned them a homeland and even identified its borders. In many places in the Tanakh, God calls this land his land. [4] As the original owner, he has the right to give it to whomever he chooses, and he gave it to Abraham's descendants for a strategic reason. Israel was the hub for trade and the movement of peoples from Africa to Asia, Europe, and the Indian subcontinent. The ancients called it, "the navel of the earth." God’s grace to Israel through the Abrahamic Covenant would be on display for all the world to see.

The genocidal chant, “From the river to the sea . . .” is ironic. Unknowingly, the mobs who scream this phrase are describing the land of Israel according to God’s original survey—except they get the name of the river wrong. He told Abraham that he would give his offspring all the land between the River of Egypt (most probably a stream just north of the Wadi al-Arish in the Sinai) and the Euphrates—not the Jordan! [5] When Joshua allotted the land to the Israelite tribes, the lands of both Ephraim and Manasseh bordered the Mediterranean. [6] Solomon’s domain stretched from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates. Even though Israel has not yet resided in all that land, Solomon exacted taxes and tribute from those kings north of Israel.

And what about Jerusalem? Why has this city been the object of such violent conflict? If one visits Safra Square outside Jerusalem’s City Hall (facing Jaffa Street), one will see a beautiful tiled version of the Bünting Cloverleaf Map, designed by German pastor Heinrich Bünting and published in his book, Itinerarium Sacrae Scripturae in 1581. [7] The map depicts Jerusalem as the center of the world and, while not cartographically accurate, it reflects the words of the prophet Ezekiel. God actually selected Jerusalem as the city he would call home. [8] This is no more evident than it is in Ezekiel 5:5, where he declares: “…This is Jerusalem. I have set her in the center of the nations, with countries all around her.” 

Two biblical texts dramatically illustrate this designation. Since October 7, 2023 some have posed the question, “Is the 10/7 massacre a fulfillment of Psalm 83?” Regardless of one’s conclusion, verses 6-8 of this psalm clearly reference “the countries all around her.” Every one of the State of Israel’s current enemies is named—enemies that have hated Israel for millennia and have been bent on her destruction and on the annihilation of the Jews. Whether or not October 7 is a fulfillment of this timely psalm, the text reveals that little has changed.

Tourists to Israel often overlook the fact that the Church began in Jerusalem. Even in Acts 2, Jerusalem was the epicenter of God’s plan. If one maps the sixteen places mentioned in Acts 2:9-11, one discovers that they encircle the city of Jerusalem. Surely, this is more than coincidental.     


Why did God put the Jews in this place? His desire was to bless them so richly that nations passing through their territory would be gobsmacked by the goodness of the land and the prosperity of the people. They would inquire as to how it could be. This would provide for Israel the opportunity to testify of the greatness of the true God so that the nations of the earth would also worship him. God did not choose the Jews because they were bigger [9] or better [10] than other nations. We weren’t, and we aren’t. The tongue-in-cheek description of Israel—Jerusalem prays, Tel Aviv plays, and Haifa pays—has some validity. All three worldviews are unacceptable to God. They are different routes to the same destination.     

God’s contract with Israel included a proviso. [11] If Israel disobeyed God and broke his laws, God would remove them from his land for the sake of his own name and scatter them throughout the nations of the earth until such time as he saw fit to bring them back. They would find no respite there. Their lives would hang in doubt before them. In the morning, they would long for evening; in the evening, they would long for morning. [12] His people did disobey by ignoring his laws, practicing idolatry, and rejecting the promised Deliverer and their Messiah. In response, God did what he said he would do. The Jewish diaspora is not a geo-demographic phenomenon. It is a judgment of God. But it is not permanent.

A POTENTATE           

God has not forgotten his people. The fact that there is a place called Israel in the modern world is evidence of that. Jeremiah assured the Jews that his commitment to Israel is as sure as the fixed order of day and night and the incalculability of the expanse of the heavens or the foundations of the earth. [13 ]Though now a parliamentary democracy, throughout its history Israel was a monarchy. Although Israel's kings failed to meet the criteria he established for their character and rule, [14] God also made an unconditional, unilateral covenant with David, Israel's second king. It established the House of David forever, and Jesus of Nazareth is a direct descendant of David and heir to his throne. As God in flesh, Jesus is without sin. As Israel's potentate, he cannot rule over a nation that is not devoted to him. One day, however, Israel will accept Jesus as both God and King. God promised with all his heart and soul [15] to bring them back to the land so he could bring them back to the Lord. Phase I of this plan is happening before our eyes. Satan tried to eliminate ancient Israel so the Messiah could not come. Now he is trying to eliminate modern Israel so the Messiah cannot come again.

Do you believe Jesus actually walked the earth? It is naive to suggest he did not. If we understand history clearly, we acknowledge that Jesus of Nazareth lived in Israel 2000 years ago and died by crucifixion at the hands of the Romans and at the insistence of the Jews. His first incarnation was the fulfillment of over 300 prophecies in the Tanakh. His second incarnation will fulfill many more of them, and is as sure to occur as his first. Biblical prophecy is history that has not happened yet.

Three thousand years ago, King Solomon dedicated the magnificent temple he had built according to the design God had given to this father, David. [16] In his benediction to the people of Israel gathered on this solemn occasion, Solomon asked God to “. . . maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires, that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other.” [17] Centuries later, Naaman—the leprous Syrian general—burst from the murky waters of the Jordan with skin like the skin of a little child because he believed the word of God. Standing before the prophet Elisha, who had instructed him to dip in the river seven times to be healed, Naaman exuberantly exclaimed, "Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel!" [18] 

This is what God wants everyone to know. It's why Israel is.

Note: Scripture quotations are from The ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version©),  copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publication ministry of Good News Publishers. 

[1] Isaiah 66:8 

[2] Genesis 12:1-3

[3] Genesis 15:12-17

[4] 2 Chronicles 7:20; Isaiah 14:25; Jeremiah 2:7, 16:18; Ezekiel 36:5, 38:16; Joel 3:2

[5] Genesis 15:18-21

[6] Joshua 16:5-17:9

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%BCnting_Clover_Leaf_Map

[8] See Psalm 132:13, Psalm 137:4-6; 2 Kings 21:4, 7;  2 Kings 23:27; 2 Chronicles 6:6; 2 Chronicles 33:7; Isaiah 49:6.

[9] Deuteronomy 7:7

[10] Deuteronomy 9:5

[11] Deuteronomy 28:15-68 (The text of Deuteronomy contains all the elements of a suzerain contract, a common document in the Ancient Near East.)

[12] Deuteronomy 28:64-68

[13] Jeremiah 31:35-37

[14] Deuteronomy 17:14-20

[15] Jeremiah 32:36-41

[16] 1 Chronicles 28:19

[17] 1 Kings 8:60, italics added

[18] 2 Kings 5:14b

Jeremia lives in Canada and has a Dutch Jewish background with historic family ties to Israel. He has studied and taught the Bible for over 40 years.

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