January 19, 2018

A look inside Thank God for Israel

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Thank God for Israel
Craig Hartman

Eschatological discussions, especially as they relate to Israel, often involve reference to the so-called “Dry Bones Prophecy” of Ezekiel 37:1–14. Many preachers and writers will speak in terms of the modern state of Israel as a specific fulfilment of this passage, taking that conclusion for granted and marveling at the miracle that is the state of Israel. This is understandable, of course, since the twentieth century witnessed the beginning of an amazing and continuing return to the land, though in unbelief, etc., which is consistent with the prophecy. That does not end the analysis, however. That the chapter is speaking of Israel can hardly be argued against, especially since the text itself says that it is (e.g., v. 11), but the timing of its fulfillment is technically less clear.

The nation of Israel is a miracle. A visit to Israel shows the hand of God around every corner. Being there brings the Bible to life, but it also enables the visitor to see that the land has also come alive. While not controlled by the Jewish people the land deteriorated. In contrast now, the land is vibrant with green where there were once swamps and with life and development where there once were barren areas. Towns have grown up—and even thriving cities that have a major impact in the world. Since the modern nation’s founding, Israelis have been recipients of more Nobel Prizes per capita than any other country (other than Switzerland). It leads the world in the number of scientists in the workforce with the most physicians and engineers per capita. Israelis have registered more patents in the United States than have citizens of Russia, China, and India combined, yet Israel’s population is approximately 8 million and the combined population of these countries is almost 3 billion. That is approximately a quarter of one percent of the population by comparison.

The Making of a Nation
Stephen Christopher

Dr. A. T. Pierson wrote that history is “His Story.” Although the secular historian would decry any effort to include God in the mix of human events, there are many inexplicables in history if we eliminate God’s role. There are reasons for what happens, and there are results to what has happened. From the beginning of the dispersion a desire of the diaspora to return to Israel has existed, but it occurred only last century. Why did God’s people wait so long to return to their divinely appointed land? I would suggest that it is because there was a “fulness of time” for their doing so.

Robert Murray McCheyne: “A Lover of Israel”
Jim Bickel

God providentially moved to make McCheyne a member of the Mission of Inquiry during a forced season of rest from ministry due to illness. One day in 1838 while Dr. Candlish was walking with McCheyne and talking to him about the Mission to Israel, Candlish asked what he thought of “being useful to the Jewish cause.” …

So deep was the commitment of Robert Murray McCheyne and other Scottish Christians to Jewish missions, believers presently in Scotland are distinct in their burden to evangelize the Jewish people.

A deep heartfelt interest in missions, including Jewish missions, is the result of an attitude that comes through spiritual revival. Believers who seriously study the Bible realize the special importance that the Lord places on the salvation of the Jews. It is also true that a life of prayer always accompanies a heart for missions.

History, Theology, and the Nation of Israel
Layton Talbert

Belief in the future restoration of ethnic Israel to the land God promised His people has been known to be argued (vigorously, I might add) by some postmillennial covenant theologians (e.g., John Edwards, a seventeenth-century Church of England theologian). And a gratifying number of amillennial covenant theologians have come to agree that Romans 11 teaches a future conversion of ethnic Israel. But the theological view historically most associated with the ongoing eschatological significance of Israel, ethnically and nationally, is dispensational premillennialism.

The political events of the first half of the twentieth century profoundly shaped the theological developments of the second half of the twentieth century. Some would argue that they also validated the theological developments of the second half of the nineteenth century as well. Critics have often accused dispensationalism of “newspaper exegesis.” While the charge is a helpful reminder that current events do not interpret Scripture, it is just as mistaken to insist that Scripture provides no lens for interpreting current events. Every fulfillment of prophecy is nothing less than the convergence of revelation and reality. At some point, the prophesied future becomes the actual present. To risk putting it somewhat crassly, every prophecy eventually becomes a newspaper headline, because every prediction eventually converges with a point in time.

When War Broke Out on My Mission Field
Grant Hartman

What does one do when a war breaks out on his survey trip or mission field? What does one do when he’s learning the culture from a bomb shelter? What if his language study is to the background music of pipe bombs, air-raid sirens, and heavy artillery exercises? What does he do if the news no longer covers meteorological thunderstorms but rockets thundering down on him? What if in every prayer meeting someone is praying for a kid they went to school with who is now at war? What if every week his pastor’s first announcement is directions on how to get to the bomb shelter? What if rather than learning how the people live in the country he’s in, he’s learning how they bury their dead?

These are the questions I was forced to ask myself on my survey trip in the summer of 2014 as I was faced with living in a war zone. Growing up seeing the mission trip presentations from peers returning from all corners of the globe, I had never seen a slide show that mentioned a war. I was ill prepared for what was going on, but God used it to teach me three very important lessons that I want to share with you. They are to know your identity, love your enemy, and run with suffering.

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