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ISRAEL – GOD’S SPECIAL PEOPLE

Genesis 32:25-32; 1 Peter 1:13; 4:7

After Jacob stole his brother’s birthright, Esau was extremely angry with Jacob and also with himself. He was now understandably full of revenge, so Jacob had to run away. Rebekah sent her son to her brother Laban in Haran. (Genesis 27:44-45) Genesis chapters 31 to 33 tell us that after 20 years in exile, Jacob returned to his homeland and reconciled with his brother Esau.

Genesis 32:25-32 records the strange meeting Jacob had with God, who gave him the name Israel. The people of Israel from whom the Messiah was to come, who would bruise the serpent's head,  and who would take the power from Satan was conceived through Abraham as God had promised.

For the first time, the name Israel appeared. The nation now was like an embryo, as yet unborn. Israel was still not yet a people. The first weeks of pregnancy had passed. This, child, Israel, developed slowly into a nation. As the day of the birth drew near, Satan showed himself, full of fear because,

  • He knew God's plan.
  • He knew that out of this Israel a people of God would come.
  • He knew that out of this Israel the Messiah would come.

Satan's plan was to eliminate the Israelite people. All must die. And so Genesis 34 tells us how Satan attempted to let this slowly evolving people drown in the sea of nations.

We see how deceptively Satan behaves.

  • It began with the cunning serpent in Paradise, who did not appear as a monster to Adam and Eve.
  • It continued as Satan tried to prevent the birth of Israel, but as a benefactor, who abused love to come to his goal. Until today Satan has not lost any of his craftiness. He appears as an angel of light and as a friend of mankind, but ultimately he reveals himself as the prince of darkness and a cruel enemy.
  • This is also a warning for the Church and for every Christian. If the enemy cannot achieve his ends by force, then he attempts to undermine the Church in a mild and insidious way. He sends "religious" false doctrines, which ultimately make sure that there is no difference between a child of God and a child of Satan. The Church is neutralized and does not even notice it.

Israel should be set apart from the rest of the nations and not be like them. (Exodus 23:32-33) In the same way, the Church should not conform to the world but testify of God through a genuine gospel. Not conformity, but showing people that Christians are different, redeemed, and free. Satan's attempt to make Israel lost in the world of nations failed, but it was not his last attempt. The conquest and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans led many to believe that the Antichrist was at the door. Martin Luther saw him in the papacy. For this reason the German reformer emphasized all his life, "I am convinced that the last days are imminent.” He expected the re-gathering of Jews.

When Israel really did become an independent state in 1948, many prominent Bible teachers such as Hal Lindsey proclaimed that the Lord Jesus probably would return in the generation of the Jewish state founders. Every generation of Christians thinks they can see the signs of the approaching end. This is good. It is part of a healthy Christian life to be conscious that we are living in the last days and that our Lord can come at any time. Several scripture verses repeat the fact that the time of our Lord’s return will be a surprise. (Matthew 25:13; Luke 12:36-37; Acts 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:7; Revelation 22:20)

God's enemies in the invisible world, namely the Devil and his demons, should not know what, when, and how things will take place. In 1 Corinthians 2:7-8, the apostle Paul confirms this from the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the first coming of Jesus: the victory of the Lord through His sacrificial death on the cross was God's secret wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Based on the Chronological Bible, Moses was called by God in 1447 B.C. and the Exodus took place in 1446 B.C. If we consider this as one year, then we have to understand that the people of Is­rael had experienced unprece­dented miracles as no other people in history. They were witnesses when

  • water turned into blood, frogs plagued the land,
  • biting lice, the flies, disease upon livestock, boils,
  • thunder and hail, locusts, darkness,
  • and finally, death of the firstborn in Egypt.

There should not have been a shadow of doubt that the God of Israel was the God of Creation. The supernatural inter­ventions of God could not be denied.  (Exodus 8:22-23) Even the most hardened atheist would have been convinced of the presence and working of the God of Israel, the Creator of heaven and earth. They also remembered the willingness of the Egyptians to share their riches, to give them away as God had promised to Moses in Exodus 3:21-22.

After Israel moved out of Egypt, they were pursued by Pharaoh and his mighty army. How does Israel react? Exodus 14:11-12 reads:

They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"

The Israelites were witnesses of the coming of Pharaoh's forces. Instead of believing the God of Israel, who intervened on their behalf with ten mighty, supernatural miracles, they complained that they would rather be slaves and serve the Egyptians than be a free people serving the Lord.

Next, another astounding miracle took place: the drying up of the Red Sea in Exodus 14:29. When the Egyptians attempted to cross the Red Sea, they all perished as the Psalmist later proclaims in Psalm 136:15. Israel saw the works of God, but did not believe. (Exodus 14:31; Psalm 103:7) Thus we see that seeing is not necessarily believing. True faith, genuine belief, is defined in Hebrews 11:1. Israel, for believers, is the great end-time sign. The Israelites, or Jews, are unique and different from all the people on the face of the earth, but the nations of the world do not believe. Consider three important facts:

The United Nations Security Council has issued 97 resolutions against Israel, but only 4 against all Arab states combined. While the Middle East is in turmoil, Israel is the only democratically functioning nation in the region. Jews comprise less than 0.2 percent of the world's population, yet 20% of Noble Prize winners since 1969 are Jewish.

We could list pages upon pages, even books, of the accomplishments of Jewish people and their contribution to improving the lives of people on earth, but all the facts and figures mean absolutely nothing to those who do not believe. Would anyone have believed that Israel could establish their own nation on May 14, 1948, and continue to exist, and even prosper? That was all but impossible. The Arab world, particularly Israel's neighbors, well-armed and trained, were ready to crush Israel and throw the Jews into the sea. But each attempt by the Arabs ended in embarrassing failure and the virtually unbelievable victory of the Jewish people of Israel.

The facts and figures speak for themselves. One only needs to check the curriculum of educational institutions of Arab countries and the Islamic world to discover unbridled hatred of Israel. In the Arab-occupied Israeli territory of the West Bank and Gaza, terrorists who have murdered innocent civilians are greatly honored. Even streets are named after these murderers. The government of the Palestinian Authority continues to praise the suicide bombers. Those who use knives to kill are called heroes, liberators of Palestine—a land that has never existed as a political identity.

The most horrendous atrocity recorded in human history is the Holocaust, committed in Europe under the leadership of Adolf Hitler's Germany. The World Center for Holocaust Research, Documentation, Education and Commemoration contains the world's largest repository of in­formation. Names of Jews who disappeared and the names of those whose lives ended in the concentration camps are clearly recorded. There is no denying the facts.

Psalm93:5 testifies, Your statutes stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O LORD. In His high-priestly prayer in John 17:17, Jesus says to the Heavenly Father, Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. The connection between the reliability of the Word and the holiness of His nature is parallel to the psalmist’s words.

  • “Your word is truth” corresponds with the phrase “Your statutes stand firm.”
  • “Sanctify them by the truth” is like “holiness adorns your house.”

Hebrews 3:6 answers the question of whose house it is. But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.

It is about us born-again people being an adornment for Him as Isaiah 62:3 says, You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD's hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. Or, in the New Testament language of Ephesians 1:12, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. Through His very reliable Son, the Word, we will be sanctified as His house. So, as born-again believers, we are not only "a temple of the Holy Spirit" as we are called in 1 Corinthians 6:19 but His house also.

In a temple, people worship and sacrifice. This is God's part. He does this through us. But people live in houses. That is why we find in Ephesians 3:17 these tremendous words, . . .  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love. If we love Him and keep His Word, then God lives in us. (John 14:23; Revelation 3:20)

Are you really living a holy life through His Word? According to this inconceivable fact that He has made you to be His house, is living in you? Ephesians 1:4 says, He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight in love. God did everything to accomplish His goal with you in His great love so that you could be found holy and blameless before Him in love and be an adornment for His house. It is only because in His great love He let His only begotten Son be nailed to the cross at Calvary. And Jesus Christ carried away this terrible sin on the cross, sin which came upon us through the Devil in Paradise. He shed His blood and gave His life. To what purpose? Hebrews 13:12 gives the answer.

What a price the Lord Jesus paid! God really did let it cost Him everything, so that you could be sanctified forever. This is why it says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, It is God's will that you should be sanctified.

What exactly is sanctification?

  • Forgiveness of sins is saying "no" to sin.
  • Sanctification is our "yes" to Jesus Christ. And in light of this, we understand the tremendous words of  Peter 1:15-16. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."  Hebrews 12:14 says, without holiness no one will see the Lord.

We pray for revival by saying, “Let it begin in me,” but we avoid being sanctified. The conflict between people’s claims and their true behavior is great! That is godlessness. You need to actually accept Christ in your heart, not just say the words.

How can we be forgiven and live for God? All people are sinful and need forgiveness. Those who want a relationship with God must first learn how their sins can be forgiven so they can become acceptable to God and live transformed lives full of love and compassion.

I long for us to come out of the dead theory at last into the living experience of revival. The terrible inner battle described in Galatians 5:17 tells us, For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

There can be no revival without sanctification, for holiness adorns your house for endless days, O LORD.

O earth, earth, earth, hear the Word of the Lord!    

Let us repent of our sins and truly accept Jesus in our hearts as our Lord and Savior.

THE INVITATION

You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).

To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).

You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:

      Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed.

      Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.

      I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.

      Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.

                     In Your name I pray, Amen.