To most readers of Israel Today, it’s a given that God never stopped loving Israel - even after the nation rejected their Messiah. “For they are beloved for the sake of the fathers” (Rom. 11:28). Unfortunately, too many Christians still do not share that belief. And sadly, and understandably, many Jews are extremely skeptical of His love, also.
So how can we know with absolute certainty God is truly in Israel’s corner today?
As for myself, I knew it by the witness of the Holy Spirit when I saw the prophecies concerning Jewish Israel’s restoration being fulfilled right before my eyes. That told me the sorrows they had suffered as a result of God’s expulsion from the land in 70 AD were over. And that like their seventy years in Babylon, the clock had run out on God’s chastisement. God was again bringing His people home with divine favor to reestablish them. If there were any lingering doubts, the Six Day War put them to rest.
However, it has been fifty years since that miraculous victory in 1967 and the forces of darkness are again in ascendancy. What Israel’s enemies could not take militarily, it appears Satan hopes to achieve by imposing a political “solution” backed by the might of the nations. As the battle looms larger each day, Christians need to be certain about God’s commitment to stand by Israel.
Ironically, Israel herself has historically questioned God’s oft-stated covenant love for them, expressed in the Hebrew word chesed. Especially in hard times when it looked like He didn’t care enough to intervene.
This chronic disbelief was directly confronted by God through the prophet Malachi. He began by flat out stating from the beginning, “I have loved you.” But then chided: “But you say, ‘How have You loved us?’”
He then gave this eye-popping response: “Was not Esau your brother?’ declares the LORD. ‘Yet I have loved (you) Jacob; but hated Esau.” (Mal. 1:2). God was declaring that His eternal love for Israel (Jacob) could be seen in the fact He chose them over the descendants of their father’s twin brother Esau. What’s more, He had done so while both were still in their mother’s womb – “and had not done anything good or bad” (Rom. 9:11).
Now if that answer was startling back then, today it would be totally offensive. In a world suffocating in political correctness we are told that all humanity is fundamentally good. And that God loves and accepts everyone no matter what their belief or lifestyle. The idea that God would choose to love one person and “hate” another borders on being, well, a hate crime.
To the world, any suggestion that we are basically “sinful” and in need of God’s mercy is insulting. But God says otherwise. The Bible clearly teaches there are “none righteous…none who do good, not even one” (Rom. 3:10,12). And that without God’s mercy all would perish.
But even Christians are uncomfortable when they learn how selective God is in showing His mercy to Adam’s doomed race.“For he says to Moses, ‘I will have compassion on whom I have compassion, and have mercy on whom I have mercy’” (Rom. 9:15).Even more startling that His selections were made “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).
For those who think it supremely unfair of God to show mercy to some and not others, Scripture responds: “The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?” (Rom 9:20). God doesn’t ask us to understand it but just to accept it and trust He is a good and just and loving God. And that one day it will all be clear.
But this part of His plan is clear now.
God is determined to redeem His fallen creation one man at a time through His son, Messiah Yeshua. The plan was launched when God chose a “gentile” named Abram, who believed God and was declared righteous for his faith. After renaming him “Abraham,” God chose his son Isaac (and not Ishmael). And then Isaac’s son Jacob (and not Esau). And so on down the line to this very day when He chose you and I. For as Yeshua told us, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).
So what was God saying when He told Israel His love was evidenced in choosing Jacob over Esau? He was informing them (and us) that they had had no reason to doubt His love because they hadn’t done anything to deserve it in the first place. It was a sovereign decision on God’s part to show mercy to his descendants. Israel can just rest and trust and rejoice in the fact they’ve been chosen by God. And stop doubting.
He was also emphasizing that “they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel” (Rom. 9:6). Only a chosen remnant of Abraham’s seed would be saved. As the psalmist declared, “He chooses our inheritance for us, the glory of Jacob whom He loves” (Ps. 47:4).
Which brings us to the question of God’s commitment to the newly formed State of Israel – even though most have come home in unbelief regarding Yeshua.
What we need to realize, as Paul explains in Romans 11, is that their forefathers’ rejection of Yeshua was also part of God’s salvation plan. It allowed Him to reveal His mercy as never before by lavishing it upon the least deserving of all His chosen ones - those scattered among the Gentiles. “A nation without understanding” (Rom. 10:19) God called us. By showing mercy to us first He could now show mercy to Jewish Israel. “For God has shut up all [of Abraham’s seed] in disobedience so that He might show mercy to all” (Rom. 11:32).
What a plan! What a God! To Him be the glory forever, amen!
Brian Hennessy is the author of Valley of the Steeples