Background and central principles
If we are to have understanding of the days in which we live then there are a number of central issues to keep in mind. Indeed, though mankind in general chooses to ignore these issues, they should be central for every generation. In our present world we are on the brink of decisions of immense nature, that will have deep impact on all mankind. Now more than ever it is time to pause and reflect on the balance in our understanding, so that wisdom might follow.
Most central to all history is the fact that there is one true God who created all that we see in the universe and who is overseeing all that is happening, according to principles that are infinitely higher than those that we can attain. Secondly, this Almighty God has planned for the salvation of all human beings that will turn to Him in repentance, and this plan of salvation is the central strand of history. This plan is secured through the covenant principles that are laid down in the Bible, brought into focus through His chosen servants. In understanding God’s covenant purposes we need to begin at the beginning of Scripture and go through to the end, and make specific and linked studies of what He revealed to Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jeremiah. Then we can come to a position of deeper understanding that the most central issue is the sacrificial atonement of the Lord Jesus the Messiah. With foundations set we can perceive more clearly that the world today is moving towards a central focus that is revealed in the Bible: namely the return of the Lord Jesus. He came once as Saviour in fulfilment of biblical prophecy and He will come again as King and Judge. These are among the most important and central issues relating to the world today and based on which we would be taking counsel together to plan our future.
The Lord God is willing to work out our future with us (both individually and corporately) through the power of His Holy Spirit whom He gives to all who seek Him in humility and truth. He has also given us the Bible as a resource on which to base our lives of faith. When Jesus returns He will take delight in gathering to Himself for eternal life all who have been saved by faith in this world and who, as a consequence, have set themselves to order their individual lives and their communities according to His teaching. There is a relevant passage in the Book of Acts that is a worthy point for reflection in our day on this principle, showing how God put us into small people groups for the purposes of salvation:
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:24-27)
In this world, which is surging forward to globalism, unpacking what heritage individual countries might have had in their past that reflects biblical standards, including Britain, we would be wise to remember what God intended for us. He put us into individual nations so that individuals might seek Him for salvation and thereafter the possibilities are opened for communities and perhaps even nations to be ordered according to the teaching of God.
In our day we must hold this in contrast with what the Bible says of the end times, when the Lord Himself will allow men to follow their own desires and set up a counterfeit, humanistic, and deceptively demonised one world system, bringing on themselves manifestations of hell on earth. At this time of decision it is our responsibility to warn and keep on warning of this consequence of turning away from God.
One central nation
An important principle of God is that outside of the atonement through the shed blood of Jesus, mankind is answerable for its sins and these sins will be remembered. A sign of God’s character in forgiveness and judgement has always been one people group, namely the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Twelve Tribes of Israel. In one sense they are simply human beings like all human beings. In another sense they are a chosen people for God’s own purposes. The Bible teaches us that Israel has always been central in the covenant plan. At the culmination of that plan, when Jesus gave His life for the atonement of all that will have faith, Israel was the first to have the revelation of how the plan was fulfilled in and through Him. Many from Israel believed and many more disbelieved, and so it is that their descendants have suffered exile for nearly two thousand years from the Land that the Lord gave them forever, where they should live under Him and according to His ways, as a light for all nations. In those two thousand years, roughly the same time between the covenant plan first being given to Abraham and the coming of the Lord Jesus, God has turned His attention to the Gentile nations for salvation, yet He has not forgotten Israel and the promise remains that in the last days of human history, in the context of a growing one world system, God’s covenant plan will be completed for Israel.
Indeed, throughout history God has not forgotten His people Israel. Though He has offered the same covenant promise of salvation to all mankind, it is still a covenant centred on Israel. To be a true Israelite, one is expected to have faith in Jesus the Messiah (Yeshua HaMashiach to give Him the Hebrew expression of His Name), so that physical descent from Abraham is not the only part of what a true Israelite should be. Thus God will bring many to faith from the tribes of Israel, who are generally identified as Jews in our day. This is, out of all the central focuses of God, in a growing way the central focus of world history today, and it is a key issue that every national government should recognise, as well as every individual person.
Salvation of individuals often (perhaps usually or even always) comes out of suffering, and so we will see suffering and tribulation grow around the whole world and this will be used by God to bring forth the last great harvest of believers from all nations, and specifically as the end purpose as a refining tool for Israel. Yet, just as Babylon was God’s tool of refinement in Old Testament days and was also punished for its oppression of Israel (God only using nations heading for judgement for refining His people) so there will be a rise of a Babylonian system today. This will be the one world government which will be judged for what it does to God’s people and also be used to lead those people to respond to God’s offer of salvation (God’s ways, remember, are perfect and not our ways).
What we call the Church should be understood as linked to the believing community of Israel. Indeed, the word “Church” needs to be redefined. It is generally understood to be the Christian Church in the Gentile world. However, the true picture is that God grafted believers from the Gentile world into an existing historical body coming out of an Israeli root (Jesus being the King of that body, the King of the Jews). In the coming days there will be a convergence of all true believers into what Paul called the “One New Man”, one worldwide historical body of those with faith in the God who first revealed Himself to Israel. Will this be a body that comes out of a world system, growing in understanding of their true identity, while all countries of the world go astray in a general sense? This is what the Bible indicates. Is it not, therefore, time for world governments to be made aware of the central issues on God’s historical calendar, so that they should also consider how to shepherd their people into the path and purposes for God in these last days?
The Path of identification
There are a number of central issues and within the framework of these, Israel is rising more and more for us to understand God’s purposes for them and all mankind in Jesus. All of salvation has been born out of suffering and it will not change in the last days. It is time for all of us to make up our mind whether we are to God’s way or our own. There is a passage in the Book of Revelation that indicates where Jesus has been and will be in all that suffering:
“….the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10)
Everything that has been prophesied by God is lived out by Jesus as His testimony. As far as Israel is concerned, even in exile, even in the holocaust and the pogroms, everything that has been prophesied for them from the foundation of the world until its end is lived out fully in all the agony that it takes for His people, by Him, Jesus. To be against those things prophesied for these end times is to contribute to the pain of the testimony of Jesus as He lives it for His people. In these last days we would be wise to seek to understand just what God is doing, what He is inhabiting, where He is and so where we should be with Him, His plans and His people. To be otherwise is to be working towards the temporary kingdom of the antichrist on this earth, against God instead of with Him.
(This article was first published on the Tishrei Web site “familyrestorationmagazine”)