Episode 04: The land of Israel is a hot topic of debate not just amongst secular news but even in churches. It is key that Christians realize Israel is not just important because of what happened there in the past but also because of what is to take place in the future. In episode four viewers will learn that not only did the ancient Jewish prophets predict the coming of Messiah but they also predicted his second coming and the ingathering of the Jewish people back to their land. Israel thus becomes the stage on which the final redemption will happen.
The Lesson: What Does Jewish Prophecy Say About Israel and the Jewish People?
The beginning of this episode, Jewish Prophecies seems to depart from the theme of the first three programs, which defined the basic concept of the gospels, the meaning of the word “Christ,” and the meaning of the name “Jesus” from a Messianic Jewish viewpoint. However, the focus, which is the specific Jewish prophecies that relate to the work of the Messiah and the gospel message, tie in very well, especially with the episode addressing The Good News.
This show is also different in that teacher Toby Janicki begins the program by discussing the modern nation of Israel within a political, social, and news media context (my review is timely given the current Israeli/Palestinian “peace talks”). However, he explains, we cannot really understand why the modern world is so focused on the tiny nation of Israel unless we look at it from a Spiritual and Biblical perspective.
When you see encampments surrounding Yerushalayim, know for certain that its destruction is near. Then let the men of Yehudah flee to the mountains! Let whoever is in it come out! Whoever is in the open areas should not come into it! For they are days of vengeance to fulfill all of what is written. How terrible for those who are pregnant and for nursing mothers in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. They will fall by the sword and be exiled to all the nations. Yerushalayim will be a treading place for the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
–Luke 21:20-24 (DHE Gospels)
This is Messiah speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, which would occur several decades after his earthly ministry had ended. And yet, it’s the very last sentence that tells us of today’s topic. When will the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled and what will happen next?
Jesus is a Jewish prophet talking to Jewish people. He is also, as Toby states in this episode, presenting The Mystery of the Jewish People and their Return to the Land of Israel. This mystery is directly associated with the Messiah and the gospel message and is illustrated for us in the ancient Jewish prophecies as well as in the prophecies of Messiah.
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
–Luke 21:27 (ESV)
And what will Messiah do upon his return. According to Jewish prophesy, as described later in the episode, he will redeem Israel by gathering the Jewish people back to their Land. This leads to the first clue.
Clue 1: The Good News is the restoration of the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel.
The gospel message is to the Jews first and foremost. Prophecies in Isaiah 11:11-12 and Isaiah 61:1-4 teach us that the Root of Jesse, that is Messiah, will gather the Jewish people and return them to their Land, back to Israel. He will also show favor to Zion by rebuilding and restoring Jerusalem and the rest of Israel.
The gospel isn’t about the church, it’s about Jewish national restoration to Israel.
But what’s interesting is that this work has been going on for quite sometime. Depending on your point of view, it began with the modern Zionist movement in the 19th century. You could also consider it starting, or at least really getting off the ground, in 1948 with the establishment of the modern state of Israel.
The Jews have been returning to their Land in droves. But that begs the question, What is a Jew?
For the answer, the scene shifts to Israel and to teacher and translator Aaron Eby.
Simply said, the word “Jew” is derived from the word “Judah,” which is one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Judah was also one of the sons of Jacob. But what about all of the other Israelites? How come we call all Israelite descendents “Jews” today?
According to Aaron, in the time of King Solomon, the twelve tribes were united in a single nation, the Kingdom of Israel. After that time, ten of the twelve tribes separated from Judah and Benjamin. They were the Kingdom of Israel while Judah and Benjamin had control of the Kingdom of Judah, which included Jerusalem.
The Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel and the majority of its inhabitants went into exile. Those who were left of the inhabitants of Israel moved to the Kingdom of Judah, and along with whatever members of the ten tribes were able to eventually return to the Land, they all were subsequently assimilated and absorbed into Judah. In a literal, physical sense, Judah…the Jews, are the descendents of all twelve tribes in our modern-day world (This process is described in more detail in Boaz Michael’s book, Twelve Gates: Where Do the Nations Enter?).
This takes us back to Toby and the second clue:
Clue 2: The Jewish People are the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
This would seem to be an “oh duh,” but it’s actually an important point. Both traditional Christianity and some branches of the Hebrew Roots movement have been attempting to lay claim to the Land of Israel as well (in fact, just about the entire Arab word is laying claim to Israel as “Palestine,” so you can see this is a popular activity). It’s vital for the church to understand who the Jewish people are and that Biblical prophecy clearly states that Messiah’s mission is to restore the Jewish people to their Land, the Land of Israel, and he is to restore and rebuild it.
The Jews and their nation Israel don’t go away…ever.
Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The Lord of hosts is His name: “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the Lord, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.”
–Jeremiah 31:35-36 (NASB)
The offspring of Israel, that is, the Jewish people, will always be a nation before God forever as a nation, as Israel. Linking the verse from Jeremiah with Matthew 5:17-19, we plainly see that the Jewish people, national Israel, and the Torah will all continue to exist as long as the Earth and the “fixed order” of the Sun, the Moon, and the stars continue to exist. They are all tied together beyond any untying as declared by Messiah, by Jesus.
Really, the message doesn’t get any plainer than that. There are only two major themes in Jewish prophecy: Exile and Redemption. The story of the good news of Messiah is all about the redemption of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and the restoration of Jerusalem.
But where does that leave the Gentiles? What about us?
Then in that day The nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious. Then it will happen on that day that the Lord Will again recover the second time with His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, And from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations And assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth.
–Isaiah 11:10-12 (NASB)
You can see that as part of the plan for restoring the Jewish people to Israel, there will be another effect. When the Gentiles see what Messiah is doing, we will “resort to the root of Jesse,” that is, we will be drawn to him. Messiah will “lift up a standard for the nations” and he will redeem us, too.
This is the final clue:
Clue 3: The Ingathering of Israel will have an international effect.
According to Zechariah 9:9-10, Messiah will not just rule over and bring peace to national Israel, but to all the nations of the world. Messiah’s Kingdom will be over all the earth.
What Did I Learn?
It’s actually taken me over a year to really grasp the meaning of redemption and restoration as a Jewish story focused on national Israel. When I first heard of it at the 2012 First Fruits of Zion Shavuot conference, I couldn’t make the Biblical connections. Now it seems so obvious.
I learned today that we might consider the Messiah already working “behind the scenes” somewhat, since the nation of Israel has been re-established and the Jewish people are being gathered back in. I don’t mean to say that Messiah has returned, that is yet to come. But the Messianic mission is definitely moving forward through the Spirit of God.
Toby and Aaron made other important points in this television episode (I left a clue in the last screen capture I posted above), so I hope that you’ll take the time to view this thirty minute program and be illuminated.
I’ll review the next episode very soon.