Shabbat, April 29, 2017
God promised to bless Abraham and all his children—the people of Israel, with the land of Israel. Through Israel, God also promised to bless all the people of the earth. V’eemru? (And let us say?)
Let’s unpack the blessings God promised to Abram in Genesis 12:1-3, “Go to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you, and I will make your name great; and you are to be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse anyone who curses you; and through you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
The blessings begin with the land that God showed Abraham. Genesis 15:18 spells out the land promise: ”On that day Adonai cut a covenant with Abram, saying, “I give this land to your seed, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates River.”
HaShem confirmed this land promise to Isaac (Genesis 26:3), and Jacob (Genesis 28:13).
Moses anticipated that HaShem would eventually let the children of Israel receive land reflecting the boundaries of this promise, if they were obedient to the covenant; as you can see in the map, the kingdom of David and Solomon approximated these boundaries, with Israel dwelling mostly to the south and the kings receiving tribute from the lands to the north (from which Abram came).
Throughout recorded history, nations have been associated with land—without land, is it a nation? Nations that are driven from their land almost always were absorbed into other nations. When the Perizites, Philistines, Edomites and Nabateans ceased to live in the land, they ceased to exist.
One might come up with the Polish as a possible exception—any Poles here? As you can see, Poland’s boundaries have shifted a lot, betwixt Germany and Russia; sometimes Poland blinked out of existence, gobbled up by the neighbors. Yet Polish people remained where they were.
The Poles stayed, and eventually reclaimed a land for themselves; but Jews were banished from their homeland for centuries and millenia—though there has always been a remnant in the land.
So God promised that the children of Israel would return to the Promised Land.
Ezekiel 11:17: “I will gather you from the peoples and collect you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.” There are many such prophecies.
I used to think, when I first studied the prophets, they must have been foretelling the restoration from Babylon, which happened after the generation of Daniel had been exiled for 70 years. But that return was only a partial fulfillment of what the prophets of God foresaw.
Isa. 11:11-12, “It will also come about in that day that my Lord will again redeem—a second time with His hand—the remnant of His people …. He will lift up a banner for the nations, assemble the dispersed of Israel, and gather the scattered of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
Notice two things about this prophecy:
- HaShem will reach his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant
- HaShem regathers the exiles from the four corners of the earth, not just Babylonia.
The first time was about 2500 years ago. That was amazing—HaShem brought about the first return of Jews to the land through the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great. So Jews were back in the land when Messiah Yeshua came the first time—to dwell among His people in the land, live, die and be raised from the dead, to the glory of God the Father. V’eemru?
The second time began in the late 19th century and continues until now, so that today, more Jews live in the land of Israel than in any other country—even the USA.
Fulfilling prophecies over 2600 years old—wouldn’t you say that’s pretty amazing? No other nation has been exiled and returned to their land—not just once, but twice! Miraculous!
Moreover, the return of the people to the land is tied to the hope of the Messiah. When you share the Good News with other Jews, you might want to ask them to ponder this question: why is it prophesied in Isaiah 11:11 that Jews would return from exile to the land, twice?
Yeshua/Jesus is the banner for the nations, calling people to help Israel return, so He can return.
Just as Jews had to be in the land for Messiah to come the first time, so Jews must be in the land to welcome Him back, as our Savior and King, with these words from the climax of Psalm 118, “Baruch ha-ba b’shem Adonai. Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.” V’eemru?
The second part of the Abrahamic blessing is to make his descendants a great nation and so make his name great. Here is Israel compared to the great state of New Jersey—really? Israel is actually a little bigger—if you include the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank) and Gaza!
Israel’s greatness is not a matter of physical size but because through Israel, God miraculously blesses all people and families of the earth. V’eemru?
The fruitfulness of the land is a miraculous blessing, fulfilling many prophecies. Amos 9:14 foretells, “I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit.”
After many centuries during which wine production was almost non-existent in the land of Israel, the last 20 years or so the Israeli wine industry has grown tremendously. Today there are around 300 wineries of different sizes in all areas of Israel, and it’s catching attention world-wide. How many of you have sampled Israeli wine? Is it good? It’s a blessing!
Today Israel is one of the world’s leading fresh citrus exporters, including oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, kiwis, avocados, guavas, mangoes, tomatoes and cucumbers, melons and watermelon. I remember the watermelon … they grow it near Ben-Gurion airport … delicious! The area of irrigated farmland in Israel has increased from 74,000 acres in 1948 to 460,000 acres today.
Isaiah 35:1, “The desert will rejoice and blossom like a lily.” What was once a barren waste land is now a major player in the global floral industry, especially as a supplier of European flowers during the winter months. Israel is now in the 10 ten flower exporters in the world.
So with fruit sand flowers, Israel is blessing the nations. V’eemru?
As I told the children, God is blessing the nations through Israel with many medical breakthroughs.
Jeremiah 33:5-6 foretells a correlation of healing with the return of Israel to the land: “Indeed, I will bring it health and healing, and I will surely heal them. I will reveal to them an abundance of shalom and truth. I will restore Judah from exile and Israel from exile, and will rebuild them.”
I’ve already showed you a few examples of medical miracles from Israel. Here are a couple more:
The Emergency Bandage, developed by First Care Products, a tiny start-up in Jerusalem, has saved lives of many soldiers from blood hemmarging on the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.
Dr. Marta Weinstock-Rosin, a Holocaust survivor, developed a drug that improves memory and slows its decline in subjects with Alzheimer’s disease.
Pablo Kaplan, a former executive vice president of Israel’s multinational company Keter Plastic, developed colorful wheelchairs, distributed through charitable organizations to needy children
in Israel, the Palestinian Authority territories, Peru and Tajikistan.
Because much of Israel is a desert, and its population is exploding, Israel has become the world leader in clean water technology. This year, The Israeli company Water Gen, which developed technology that produces clean water out of thin air, has signed deals to share its innovation with India and Vietnam. Agreements were reached with India’s second largest solar engineering company to provide water to remote villages and with the Vietnamese government to install water generators in the capital, Hanoi.
How many of you are getting the picture? In so many ways, God is blessing the families of the earth through Israel, giving people hope. These blessings are not human ingenuity, though we should praise God for human ingenuity. These blessings are pouring out of a tiny country whose very existence is a miracle. V’eemru?
Israel is a land of miracles, already fulfilling God’s plan of end-time prophecy.
The rebirth of the state of Israel in 1948 was a miracle of history, a supernatural fulfillment of many prophetic Scriptures. Israel was created by a vote of the United Nations, to partition the land, in November 1947.
Joseph Stalin and Harry Truman, just as the Cold War was rumping up, both supported Israel. Harry Truman had to overcome to the objections of his State Department, led by very popular General George Marshall, who didn’t want to alienate the more powerful, oil-rich Arabs.
Joseph Stalin soon switched horses to become the military backers of Israel’s enemies. How many of you think Putin is bad? For wickedness and power-hungry lusts, Stalin leaves Putin in the dust. Yet for a small window of time, Stalin supported Israel; the whole communist block voted for Israel. Can you imagine the United Nations voting to support Israel today? While the United Nation fumes, HaShem is blessing the world through Israel.
After Israel declared itself an independent state on May 14, 1948, many more miracles occurred.
The armies of 7 Arab nations marched on the newborn State, rejecting the UN partition plan, instead boasting that they would “push the Jews into the sea.” Syria and Lebanon invaded from the north, Egypt sent an army up from the south, and Jordan from the east, with help from Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Outnumbered 100 to 1, Israel not only repelled the invaders but acquired more of the land than was granted in the UN partition plan. Yigael Yadin, Israel’s commander of operations in the war, had a terse explanation of Israel’s victory. “It was a miracle!”
In May 1948, A Syrian column of 200 armored vehicles—including 45 tanks—attacked Degania, the oldest kibbutz in Israel, near the bridge crossing the Jordan River. Without artillery, Jewish forces were helpless to block the Syrian advance. Until then, the only heavy weapons available in all Israel were four howitzers of the type used by the French army in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870—before tanks were invented! Two of these ancient fieldpieces were rushed to Degania. Colonel Moshe Dayan had the howitzters reassembled. At that very moment, the first Syrian tanks rumbled through the kibbutz perimeter. The kibbutzniks fired and scored a hit on the advance tank. Had the Syrians known that these two obsolete weapons represented half the arsenal of field-guns in all Israel, maybe they would have pressed the attack? Nope! Instead, the armored vehicles swung around in their tracks and clattered back up the mountain road, back into the Golan Heights.
Does this story remind anyone of Scripture? 1 Chronicles 19:18 records that an army of Arameans (those were ancient Syrians) fled before David, near that very place! Isaiah 41:12 says: “Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.”
Here’s how Israel liberated the airport at Lydda, now called Ben-Gurion International Airport:
Seven thousand Arab troops were ready to attack. Sixteen Israelis dressed as Arabs infiltrated into the city. They made such a commotion during the night that the Arabs, totally confused, fired upon each other. Finally the majority fled back across the border. Does this battle strategy sound familiar—a small number routing thousands?
Judges 7:20-22 “Grasping torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the shofars they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for Adonai and for Gideon!” When they blew the 300 shofars, Adonai set every man’s sword against his fellow throughout the entire army. So the army fled…” The whole Midianite army fled!
The Scriptures prophesying Israel’s physical restoration are all tied to her spiritual revival. What do the early and the latter rain symbolize?
As Joel 2:28 says, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”
The Holy Spirit, which God is pouring out on the people of Israel and then all people in these days, is the rain. The early rain of the Spirit, after the first return and the first coming of Messiah, fell upon the Jewish disciples after Yeshua rose from the dead. Two thousand years later, God is sending the peoples of the earth abundant showers of his Spirit, as before. (Ezekiel 36)
Shortly after the six day war of 1967, the Holy Spirit began a Messianic Jewish revival. Until that time, the remnant of Jewish believers in Messiah numbered in the hundreds and there were no Messianic Jewish congregations, world-wide. In Israel, today, there are now over 20,000 Jewish believers participating in well over 100 congregations. Eitan Shishkoff leads a network of Spirit-filled congregations in the north of Israel, while Asher Intrater, Eddie Santoro and Ron Cantor are leading congregations that are flourishing in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The latter runs have begun; let us prepare—and let us pray for—the great outpouring. V’eemru? For HaShem has promised these things to Israel for just this time, in Isaiah 44:3, “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.”
Ezekiel 39:28-29. “Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.”
We are living in exciting times—a time of God’s miraculous blessings through Israel. V’eemru?
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Scripture references are mostly from The Tree of Life Version (TLV) though occasionally other versions. Verse citations provide Jewish numbering, with Christian numbering in parentheses.