WHY IS ISRAEL IMPORTANT?
“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet,
Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness,
And her salvation like a torch that is burning.”
I was recently asked, “Why is Israel important?”
Generally ready to answer most questions posed to Christians and ministers alike, this one presented a good chance to pause in reflection and consideration. The question was not asked with specific parameters or boundaries, nor was it positioned to be answered from any particular perspective. Simply black-n-white, straightforward, to the point – what do you think and why? It is nothing less than a mandatory question for believers.
So, why is Israel important?
Much like a Rorschach test meant to glean what comes to mind at first glance of an inkblot, the question of Israel’s importance may generate some fairly obvious answers and probably some confused or even apathetic responses. Mainstream Christianity is neither immune nor excluded in the latter. Volumes have been written providing detailed theological affirmations that respond to this very question. Unfortunately, our evangelism and witnessing opportunities usually don’t present us with individuals “preloaded” with the necessary background information to understand why Israel is important.
First, Israel is important to us because it (Israel) is important to God. Anything important to God is to be revered and placed equally important to us. Israel is God’s chosen land, chosen people, chosen vessel of work, and His beloved treasure (Deuteronomy 7:6-8; Psalm 135:4). Israel is the model God has chosen to use in His revelation and interactive relationship with mankind. God uses Israel to teach and bring understanding to His ultimate plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Throughout Scripture, chosen means the “elect” or “choice” of God. The term chosen in Hebrew is bachar or bachiyr (my chosen) and in the Greek eklektos (chosen elect). Clearly, God has made known His chosen elect in the nation and people of Israel as promised directly to Abram in Genesis 12 and reaffirmed on many occasions thereafter (Genesis 13:14,17:1-22, 18:18-19). Abram, now Abraham, was given covenant promise to his role as the father of the nation who will have decedents too numerous to count (Genesis 15:18; 16:10; 17:7 22:17). Abraham would bring forth God’s chosen people established as the nation of Israel.
So, why is Israel important?
For believers, the culmination of the work of Jesus Christ will come when the Lord God gives Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will have no end (Daniel 7:14, 27; Luke 1:32-32, Revelation 11:15). The house of Jacob is pointing to the nation of Israel. Thus, His never-ending kingdom that stretches to the ends of the earth is inclusive of the rest of believing mankind, or Gentiles.
Paul affirms in Romans 1:16 that salvation was first brought to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Therefore, it would be impossible to have salvation for either Jew or Gentile if God did not have His chosen people to bestow it upon first. No Israel…no salvation.
One of the clearest passages of Scripture pointing to the way God has intended to use Israel AND Gentiles in the fulfillment of His plan is Romans 11:1-12. Here Paul reveals the blessings of grace used by God when granted to the remnant (elect) of Israel, yet also to the Gentiles in light of the Jews who rejected God (v. 6, 8). God gave them a spirit of hardness, eyes that cannot see, and ears that cannot hear (v.8). Finally, God tells us that salvation was brought to the Gentiles to evoke envy in Israel (v.11). Clearly, God is using both Jew and Gentile to the ultimate culmination of His plan. Not pitting one against the other, but rather using the two together; first Jew, then Gentile.
Finally, understanding the outlay of events described in the Book of Revelation, we see the blessed declaration, the utilization of, and ultimate importance of Israel in Christ’s coming Kingdom. God will use Israel in the continued fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and the emergence of the future Kingdom (Revelation 3:12, 21:1-2, 10). Not only will the Holy City of New Jerusalem come forth from heaven, but she is also being presented as a ready bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:2, 9-14). Here we will partake in the most incredible wedding of all – Christ to His Church!
In sum, the simple apologetics to the question why is Israel important can be drawn to a few key affirmations. Israel is God’s chosen people, nation, and model of revelation. If it is His chosen, then she is to be our longing, desire, and object of prayer (Psalm 122:6, Isaiah 62:1). God is continuing to use both Israel and Gentiles to fulfill His plan through Christ Jesus. Thus, Israel is a key component to such fulfillment. Finally, all believers surely know that without an Israel, we have no final home.
So, why is Israel important…?
It’s Home!!! – (with a capital “H”)
(John Young and his wife Kim head up Cornerstone Christian Academy in Post Falls Idaho. The Youngs’ went with HGE to Israel last year and will be bringing a group from their school on 2018. John is a strong advocate for Israel and we welcome his writings.)