Views expressed are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Israel Today.
After Israel was miraculously restored from oblivion in the last century, Jews began to return from every nation to their ancient homeland. But they weren’t the only ones rushing to set foot on that storied land. Christians began flocking to “the Holy Land” as well.
At first, we came as tourists to visit the ancient churches and to walk where Jesus walked. Then God awakened us to see this re-born nation was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, and we came as wide-eyed pilgrims. But as the years passed, God showed us something else. We saw in this restoration His everlasting love and compassion for His people who had suffered so much for so long. Often at the hands of those who called themselves Christians. And we began to understand and love the people as much as the land. And we came as friends.
Over the last 40 years or so, a number of ministries have arisen to help Christians bless the nation in many ways. From bringing Christians around the world to march in streets of Jerusalem waving banners of encouragement. To providing much needed physical and prayer support. To standing up for the nation in political forums. To encouraging tourism, and even more recently, bringing volunteers to help harvest their crops.
Through it all, I believe God has been trying to show Jewish Israel (and us) how much He loves the descendants of Abraham. And how He has never forsaken them, even though it may have looked like it for a time. Isaiah anticipated this time of restoration when he wrote: “For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you, says the LORD your Redeemer” (Isa. 54:7,8).
In considering all this I realized this Christian attraction for Israel is not diminishing, but growing ever stronger. So you have to wonder– where is it all going? Is it, as many believe, just going to go away when we fly away in a secret rapture before the reign of antichrist? If so, I’d think that would reveal a deep shallowness in our recommitment to the Jews to “never leave you again,” as most of Christianity did during the Holocaust.
Or…does God have something else in mind for Israel and all the members of Messiah’s body ready to receive it? I believe He does! And I believe He put it all in the Bible in advance so we’d know what was coming. It was just hidden. But as Yeshua told us, “Nothing is hidden, except to be revealed” (Mark 4:22).
That’s why I’m convinced by the Bible prophesies there will be a miraculous migration of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of believers streaming into the land one day. But this time we will not be coming as tourists. Or as pilgrims. Or even as “Christians.” We will come, I believe, as mishpochah (Hebrew for “family”), the redeemed of the Lord.
How many times have we sung in our churches this prophecy by Isaiah, understanding it pertained to all of us who are in Messiah?
“Therefore, the redeemed of the Lord shall return,
and come with singing unto Zion,
and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.
They shall obtain,
gladness and joy,
and sorrow, and sighing, shall flee away. ” (Isa. 51:11).
Where did we think Zion was? In Heaven? No, Isaiah was prophesying of a worldwide ingathering of God’s scattered children returning to Israel.
Some believe Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled by the recent Jewish return to Israel. But Isaiah clearly defined these happy souls as “the redeemed (or ransomed) of the Lord.” And as Scripture tells us, it is only those in Messiah who have been redeemed…”from the Law” and “your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers” (Gal. 3:13;1 Pet: 1:18). The Jewish nation has yet to experience that spiritual redemption.
Remember, also, how the high priest, Caiaphas, in plotting to murder Yeshua declared it was better that this man should die “so that the whole nation not perish?” John then commented that Caiaphas had unwittingly prophesied the truth that one man has to die for the sins of the Jewish nation. But then John added: “And not just for the nation only, but in order that he might also gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (John 11:52).
Who are these “children of God scattered abroad?” Clearly Yeshua was speaking about the “Gentiles” who would hear the Gospel and become sons of God. The ones he “purchased for God with his blood, men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9)
It’s been two thousand years since the Gospel net was cast forth from Jerusalem upon the nation’s shores. But God said a day would come when that net would be full. And then something new would begin. As Paul put it – “A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” Then God would turn and display the same mercy to Jews as He showed us. And “thus all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:25, 26).
All the signs indicate that time has come. And for me, nothing testifies louder to it than to see the depth of love an ever growing number of God-fearing “Christians” have for Israel and her people. So get ready. I believe a tsunami of God’s children will soon be gathered from the nations to be united with their Jewish brethren in Messiah to become “one flock with one shepherd” (John 10:16).
As the prophet wrote: “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd…and they will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived” (Ezek 37:24,25).
Brian Hennessy is author of Valley of the Steeples