Today, Derek talks about our response to the nation of Israel…the part we as individuals play as end-time prophecy unfolds. One of our major responsibilities as believers is to pray for Israel and Jerusalem. Derek pointed out this is the only way to for peace to be established in the world.
It’s good to be with you again as we look together at the outworking of God’s end time purpose, as it finds contemporary expression in the restoration of Israel.
In my talks for the last three days I’ve discussed Israel’s restoration from three distinct but related aspects: first, the promises of restoration; second, the process of restoration; third, the purpose of restoration. Today, in my closing talk on this theme, I will ask, and seek to answer, a very important and practical question: What should be our response to the outworking of God’s purpose to restore Israel?
First, let me repeat something that I said earlier this week. The present regathering of Israel to their own land recorded day by day in newspapers, on television and all the media, is for us, as Bible-believers, an objective worldwide confirmation that the Bible is a true, relevant and up-to-date book. Therefore, in my opinion, every Bible-believing Christian should thank God every time he thinks of what God is doing for Israel, because God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises to Israel is the strongest possible assurance that He will also be faithful in keeping His promises to the church. But personally, I believe the opposite is also true. If God did not keep His numerous promises to Israel, I don’t think that I could have any confidence that God would keep His promises to the church. If God did not fulfill the many, many promises He’s made to Israel in Scripture, I would have to conclude that the Bible is not a reliable book. But thank God, I don’t have to conclude that because God is keeping His promises to Israel and contemporary history is an ongoing record of that fact.
Now let me suggest an important principle of success in life. One key to success in any period of human history is to find out what God is doing and flow with it. I’ll say that again. Find out what God is doing and flow with it. Conversely, one sure way to failure and frustration is to oppose God’s purposes as He works them out. Now this applies both to individuals and to nations. In Isaiah 60 we have a very clear and beautiful prediction of the restoration of Israel which goes into a good deal of detail. I do not have time to read that passage, but in the 12th verse of that chapter God gives a solemn warning. He says:
“For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined.” (NIV)
I understand it this way: any nation or kingdom in the earth that resists God’s declared purposes to regather and restore Israel will be ruined. I believe that. I think it’s very important, not least for us in the United States, to lay hold of that fact. You probably know that my own background is in Britain. Britain is my mother country. And I want to tell you just briefly what I saw happen to Britain (and I was an eyewitness because I was living in Israel at the time I am speaking about).
Britain emerged from two world wars victorious. She was never defeated in war. At the end of World War II, she was a major nation, tremendous influence, tremendous assets, and an empire or a commonwealth that stretched to almost all quarters of the globe. Now, thirty years later, Britain has declined to a second-rate power, lost much of her prestige, her influence, her wealth, her position in the world. What was the turning point? I’ll tell you what I believe, and I was there to see it happen. As the mandatory power in Palestine, before it became Israel, when the United Nations determined that Israel was again to have a state of their own, the British authorities in Palestine deliberately resisted that by every means they could short of open war. I am not in a position today to go into details, but I want to tell you that I am British, I was there on the spot, I saw it happen. This is no theory. And I believe that the resisting of God’s purposes to restore the state of Israel was the turning point that led to Britain’s decline.
Now I say that, here in the United States, for a reason. One of the great blessings of this nation is that hitherto it has been consistently a friend to the state of Israel. I love this nation. The United States has been tremendously good to me as an individual. And one of my most continual and fervent prayers is this: that the United States will never make the same mistake that Britain made and turn against Israel and be allied with the enemies of Israel, for I believe that would lead to decline and disaster just as surely for the United States as it did for Britain.
Now I want to turn to the positive. Positively, how could we flow with God’s purposes for Israel? I want to offer you some simple scriptural suggestions. Turn to Psalm 122:6, or listen as I read:
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you.’” (NAS)
There are certain things that we need to understand. According to the whole tenor of Bible prophecy, the peace of Jerusalem and the restoration of Israel are inseparably interwoven. There never will be permanent peace in Jerusalem until the restoration of Israel is complete.
Secondly, in the last resort, the peace of all humanity depends on the peace of Jerusalem because God in His eternal counsel has ordained that His government over the earth will be established with Jerusalem as its center and Jerusalem will be the channel through which the blessings of peace and prosperity will come to all other nations and peoples.
The third thing we need to understand is this—it will take the combined insistent, persistent prayers of God’s people to call forth God’s intervention on behalf of Israel and Jerusalem. God will work but He will not work until we pray. Prayer is not just a formality. It’s not just a ritual. It is something essential to the fulfillment of God’s purposes. God will not do things without the cooperation of His people. This applies both to the church and to Israel. One of the major responsibilities of the church is to pray on behalf of Israel and Jerusalem. And in doing this we are promoting our own interests, because this is the only way to the peace that the world longs for. And also, in obeying God and being concerned about Jerusalem we promote our own prosperity. God says, “Those who love Jerusalem and pray for her will prosper.” That’s a good way to prosperity.
There’s another passage in Isaiah 62:6–7 along the same lines:
“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have proclaimed watchmen; All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; And give Him no rest until He establishes And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” (NAS)
Those watchmen whom God speaks about there are what we would call today “intercessors.” They are people who are concerned about Jerusalem, whose eyes are upon her and are committed to calling out to God on her behalf day and night, until God intervenes on her behalf and does what He has promised to do.
Again I want to make some simple points. First of all, there is no higher form of service than intercession. We are to be a kingdom of priests. One of the great ministries of priests is intercession. And as we fulfill this ministry, we rule as king.
Secondly, it is going to take day and night praying. God says, “All day and all night.” This agrees with the statement of Jesus in Luke 18:7:
“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?” (NIV)
There are some objectives that will only be achieved by day and night praying. The peace of Jerusalem is one of them.
Then the word “remind”—“remind the Lord” relates to other predictions which tell us that there is a specific time in God’s prophetic calendar to do this work of restoration, particularly Psalm 102:13, where the psalmist says:
“Thou wilt arise and have compassion on Zion; For it is time to be gracious to her, For the appointed time has come.” (NAS)
That’s why we are called to “remind the Lord.” We’re called to point to His prophetic calendar and say to Him, “Lord, the time has come.” And to go on reminding Him until we see God move in response to our prayer.
Finally, let me read to you out of Isaiah 66 a picture of what will be our reward:
“‘Be joyful with Jerusalem and rejoice for her, all you who love her; Be exceedingly glad with her, all you who mourn over her, That you may nurse and be satisfied with her comforting breasts, That you may suck and be delighted with her bountiful bosom.’ For thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I extend peace to her like a river, And the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; And you shall be nursed, you shall be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees. ‘As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.’’” (NAS)
That’s a message from God to all who are concerned and pray for Jerusalem.
Well, our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again next week, the same time, Monday through Friday. Next week, I’ll be dealing with a new and exciting theme.