Time in Chile & Bolivia
“Baldness is come upon Gaza” (Jeremiah 47:5). This otherwise routine visit to the brothers and sisters in Chile and Bolivia began on October 7th and was immediately taken over by the news and images emerging from Israel. The news reads like the prophets. Jeremiah described an Egyptian incursion into Gaza. “I will bring a fire on the wall of Gaza” are the words from Amos (1:7) in anticipation of the Assyrian. Looking forward to the Greek invasion, Zechariah says “Gaza shall see it and be very sorrowful” (9:5). Exodus 15:14 provides us with a current headline: “The people shall hear and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.” Even the story of Samson matches what is occurring now with the ancient and ongoing pattern of enmity: “… they brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters …” (Judges 16:21)
Over three thousand years later we are expecting a reprise of Judges 1:18 “Judah took Gaza with the coasts thereof”.
Far removed from the conflict and on a different coast – the Pacific coast of Chile – The brethren in Chile came together for a weekend together. The backdrop to the weekend was encapsulated in Luke 21:25 “… and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring:”
The fist-pumping chants from the Iranian parliament and the declared objectives of other enemies of Israel concur remarkably with the aspirations recorded thousands of years ago in Psalm 83:4 “Come, let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance”. The hopelessness of the situation is best summed up by the response of an Israeli commentator to the question: Do you see a solution to this situation over the coming decades? His answer: No.
In La Paz, Bolivia, the discussion is dominated by the same thing. From high in the Andes the words from Isaiah 40:4 resonate more strongly when thinking of the solution: “… every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain.”
The questions continue. When did this conflict start? How do we get from where we are now to the Kingdom of God on earth? How is our support for Israel best expressed in this electric environment? What exactly is our support for Israel?
This is the land that God promised to Abraham and his seed for ever. It has been a source of conflict ever since the men of Gath – described as ‘born in the land’ – killed the sons of Ephraim just one generation after Jacob, before the Exodus. (1 Chron. 7:21). It is the land into which Israel entered on the terms outlines in Deuteronomy 9:5 “Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
The primacy of God’s word remains paramount in the way his plan fits within history: Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake ….. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. (Ezekiel 36:22-24)
As heirs of this same promise (Gal. 3:29) our hope is the hope of Israel (Acts 28:20). Our saviour was born King of the Jews (Matt. 2:2). His calling is to reign over the house of Jacob for ever (Luke 1:33). He himself reminds us that salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22). His disciples who will sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28) were looking for the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6). And, Paul tells us that if we are not in Christ then we are without God, without hope, and without promise because we are not a part of the commonwealth of Israel. (Ephesians 2:12).
It doesn’t take much imagination to envisage the rapid escalation of events in Israel today into the catastrophe described in Zechariah 14 tomorrow, when Jerusalem itself is overwhelmed in a shocking way that provokes the intervention of God. This is God’s work. “I will gather all nations” he declares in Zechariah 14, Joel 3, and Revelation 16. “I will put hooks in your jaws and bring you forth” he says.
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son … they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God. (Zechariah12:10, 13:9)
So, all Israel shall be saved. (Romans 11:26)
This is what we talked about in Chile and Bolivia. It’s what we are talking about everywhere.